How To Sail Through Life James 3:1-18 Aug. 16, 2009
When we watch how people related to all the situations of life much can be learned by the words people use and the wisdom displayed through their tongue. Probably everyone of us have a time where we wish we had spoken more carefully or not at all. This poem seen on a tombstone conveys much meaning. It says, “Beneath this stone a lump of clay, lies Arabella Young, who on the 24th of May, began to hold her tongue.” The text certainly contains good advise on How To Sail Through Life.
1. Help Sail Through Life By . . Controlling Your Tongue. 3:1-12
A. The . . Professional Controlling Of The Tongue For Sailing Through Life. 3:1-2
1 Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment;
2 for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is
also able to control his whole body.
B. The . . Pictures Of Controlling The Tongue For Sailing Through Life. 3:3-7
3 Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide the whole
animal. 4 And consider ships: though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small
rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it
boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a
world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies; it pollutes the whole body, sets the
course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every creature—animal or bird, reptile or fish—is
tamed and has been tamed by man,
C. The . . Paradox Of Controlling The Tongue For Sailing Through Life. 3:8-12
1. The . . Paradox Of Blessing And Cursing With The Tongue. 3:8-10
8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God's likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things should not be this way.
2. The . . Paradox Of Bitter and Sweet Water And The Tongue. 3:11-12
11 Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree produce
olives, my brothers, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.
The text cautions anyone who would think about entering the profession of teaching. Why? Because teachers will receive a more strict judgement as they influence others. Much damage will be done by those who teach error. Eventually it will affect how they and others sail through life. James gives pictures of a bit in a horse’s mouth, the rudder of a ship, and a wild fire in a forest. These pictures speak to the damage done by a tongue out of control. What a paradox we see in the comparison between blessing and cursing and bitter and sweet water likened to the tongue.
2. Help Sail Through Life By . . Contrasting Wisdom. 3:13-16
A. The Contrast Of Wisdom Through Its . . Conduct. 3:13-14
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with
wisdom's gentleness. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don't brag and lie in
defiance of the truth.
B. The Contrast Of Wisdom Through Its . . Creation. 3:15-16
15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy
and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil.
The conduct of a wise person is a blessing to behold. A person with envy, selfish ambition, and habitual lying obviously does not demonstrate wisdom. The text makes it obvious by indicating wisdom either comes from above or below. In the first chapter of James we are told if we lack wisdom we need to ask the Lord to give His wisdom. My experience has been if I really shared some wise speech it came from above, but if what
I spoke was not wise it did not come from the Lord. Obtaining wisdom from the Lord definitely encourages smooth sailing through life.
3. Help Sailing Through Life By . . Cultivating Wisdom. 3:17-18
A. The Cultivation Of Wisdom Through Its . . Purity. 3:17
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and
good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy.
B. The Cultivation Of Wisdom Through Its . . Peace. 3:18
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. HCSB
James gives the contrast of wisdom, but also suggests the cultivation of it. James encourages cultivating wisdom through purity, peace loving, gentleness, and mercy. He discourages favoritism and hypocrisy. If a person works at making peace the fruit of these righteous acts will be peace. Recently I had the opportunity to put in practice the instructions from the book of Proverbs as it says, “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath. (Pro. 15:1 HCSB). Generally speaking I had every right to be in a heated argument. But the Lord prompted me with thoughts of peace. The situation calmed down when peaceful words were spoken. The lesson title, How To Sail Through Life became even more real to me as I spoke peaceably. That can be true for all of us. Amen? Amen!