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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

October 24, 2012

James 2:18-26, 3:1-12

  1. Verses 18-19. Picking up from last week. Faith is not faith without some actions. True faith produces true fruit. The true fruit of faith is not busyness, but faithful action. We think that because we are busy we are actually demonstrating a saving faith, but the reality is a saving faith will always show itself by works of kindness and generosity. Faith is not just believing, but it is also becoming more like Christ. If you are really believing, than you are really becoming like Christ in action. If you are not becoming like Christ in action you probably don’t have a saving faith. True faith in Christ turns into true actions of Christ. And the true actions of Christ are displayed in true acts of love towards your neighbor. Just believing is not good enough, because the demons believe. If you just believe and you don’t become more like Christ you are no different than Satan and his demons. Satan and the demons are not saved because they know that God exist. Just believing in God is not the same as a belief that causes you to really trust God for your life. True belief will be accompanied by a true change that causes one to live for God’s glory through action.

  2. Verses 20-26. James wants to press his point because someone in the church was promoting the idea that all one had to do was have a belief but no actions that showed your belief. We call this an empty faith or empty belief which is really not belief or faith at all. James uses some strong Old Testament figures to bring his point home. He uses the patriarch of the Jews Abraham as his first example. James references the account recorded in Genesis 22:15-17 where Abraham’s faith was tested by his actions. James also alludes to the fact that in Genesis 15:6 God declared Abraham righteous by his faith. James wants the reader to know that this faith he was credited as righteous with was not just a mere empty belief, but a true faith that was ultimately tested to be true by action. James takes it a step further by mentioning Rahab who was a Gentile who was gathered into the chosen people of God by her faithful actions to save the spies at Jericho. Rahab knew that God was with the Israelites. When the two spies came to her house, the king of Jericho heard of it and sent word for Rahab to turn the men over to him. She told the king that the men had already left, but that they could be caught if they were quickly pursued. She hid the two spies under piles of flax on her roof. She told them she knew about the exodus and the way God had given Israel victory over all her enemies. She confessed, “For the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on earth below!” (Joshua 2:11). She then made these men pledge that they would spare her and her family when they attacked Jericho if she would spare their lives. Her profession of faith was justified (validated) when she followed through with her promise by letting the men down the wall of the city with a rope, sending the soldiers of Jericho after the men by the wrong route. Her profession was proven to be genuine by her practice. James sums up his argument in verse 26: “Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” Words without works are worthless; a mere profession of faith is useless without that faith being put into practice.

  3. Chapter 3:1-12. The tongue is a mighty tool. It can be used for good or for evil. It is so sharp that it can be used to knock down or be used to build up. The tongue is like a chain saw. It is powerful and mighty. In the right circumstance the tongue can be used to build something great or it can cut off your arm. It is a tool that when used correctly is the source of great inspiration, but too often the tongue is used for destruction as opposed to edification. Too often the tongue is being misused and mishandled. You wouldn’t want to mishandle a chainsaw because you could injure yourself or someone else. Well dear friends if you mishandle your words, don’t watch what you say, allow your tongue to go flapping, someone might just get hurt.

  4. Verses 1-2. The writer approaches the subject of our speech by first dealing with those who in the church might do the most talking. James first deals with the teachers and the preachers of the word. The writer declares that one really should think twice before they desire to become a teacher or preacher. Since God will hold us all accountable for what we say, and since we all stumble routinely it would not be wise to casually enter into the ministry of teaching and preaching. God will hold us accountable for what we say and since teachers and preachers should know what to say and teach people what is right in what to say and do, if we make mistakes with our words God will judge us more severely because our words may have a larger audience. Our words not only might hurt, but they will also become a negative influence on a weaker believer. James is not just focusing on teachers; he just approaches the subject by dealing with the ones who will be judge the most severely with regards to their words. We will all be judge by what we say, so we all need to watch what we say especially people who are supposed to know what to say and how to say it.

  5. Verses 3-6. The first reason we should watch our mouths is because the tongue is small but it is destructive. James uses the picture of a horse, a large sail boat, and a forest fire. A horse is strong, a sailboat is powerful especially when it has a strong wind in its sail, and a forest fire is extremely difficult to put out since everything in the forest is fuel ready to burn. James highlights these three powerful pictures to show how each can be controlled or started by something small. A horse is a powerful animal, but if you put a bridle in its mouth it will go where you want it to go. The bridle is little but it can move a powerful horse. A sailboat with wind in its sail is a sight to behold, but a small rudder on the back can turn that ship. The wind could be of tornado strength, but that little rudder can keep that boat going in circles. A forest fire as powerful and destructive as it is only started by a small spark. The bridle, the rudder, and the spark are little things that can move powerful things. The first two are positive, the bridle brings the horse under control, the rudder gives the boat direction, but the last word picture, the spark of fire causes destruction. For the writer the positive uses of our speech are not the issue at hand. If everyone was talking right and speaking well of each other this would not have been recorded. Our tongue is little, but it is destructive. What kind speech is he talking about? Gossipers, complainers, people who talk behind your back, people who attack with their words, and people who have angry outburst. The tongue is small but it is destructive.

  6. Verses 7-8. Not only is the tongue destructive it is also unable to be domesticated. James says that all sorts of wild animals have been tamed. But who has been able to tame the tongue. Dogs will sit on command, cats will rollover, horses will jump, dolphins will dance on the water, killer whales will give you a ride, but the tongue is still wild today as it ever was. The tongue is a wild animal that needs to be locked in a cage and only occasionally let out, and when let out every precaution should be in place. You and I need to watch the tongue at all times. It is a wild animal, and the only way you can keep a wild animal is if you keep it under lock and key at all times. And when you do let it out you need to take every precaution when speaking. Most of us are way too thoughtless with our speech. We don’t always think before we let our lips a yappin. The tongue is not a domesticated animal it is wild and that forces us to be extremely cautious with our words. And if the truth be told some of us have grizzly bears between our lips and the best thing for some of us to do is to not say anything at all. We would do well to speak less. If people are always telling you that you said something that offended them you might consider talking less.

  7. Verses 9-12. Not only is the tongue destructive and unable to be domesticated, the tongue is also deceptive. James gives us some pictures of the deceptiveness of the tongue. The tongue can sing God’s praises, and in a second later curse its neighbor. The tongue can sing in the choir stand and cuss you out in the car on the way home. The point is that if we use our mouths to glorify God they should not be used to curse those who were made in the very image of God. Our words, our tongues, and our mouths must be consistent and not deceptive. Our words should not tell the truth one moment and a lie the next. Our words, should not pray one moment and gossip the next. Our mouths should be able to reflect the great salvation that we have. Our words should reflect what we are supposed to be all about. It is deceptive for a water fountain to have water that is not fit to drink. It is deceptive for an apple tree to have bananas on it. It is deceptive for a saint to sing praises to God and talk about Christ on one hand and allow our words to cause major damage. We must watch our mouths we must talk less and think more. We must avoid destructive talk and rely on words of edification. We must seek to match our words with our lifestyle as a saint.

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