There is a beast that man has never been able to tame, and in our modern era it has evolved into something even more grotesque. What does it have to do with the 2020 election?
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*This is not a word for word transcript, but the sermon podcast
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
PART TWO: TAMING THE KEYBOARD
Over the next month, I am going to be sharing the same quote with you, along with some words from Paul. The quote credited to a pastor named Kevin Myers, with him saying, “I’m your pastor not your politician.” If come here expecting me to tell you who to vote for, or how to vote, then I am sorry, but I am not the pastor for you.
With that being said, I am concerned with the attitude you have exercising your right to vote. Paul tells the Philippians, “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.” And that is my concern over me, you, and our church, not only through the election season, but every day.
However, there are things you and I as Christians should be thinking about as we prayerfully prepare our hearts to choose our leaders. Today, we will be in James 3:1-12 trying to figure out what this passage has do with the 2020 election.
1 Not many of you should presume to be teacher, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (NIV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
This passage, from the apostle James, has instruction for us today, especially in turbulent times. Answer the question “what does this have to do with the 2020 election” will need us to study this passage, seeking first to understand what James was instructing his audience.
Verses 1-2 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. Notice that James points out that “teachers will be judged more strictly.” This means that teachers are not judged by a different standard, but by the same one as everyone else. Only God will more closely examine them because their words are spoken to influence others.
Not all who seek to be teachers are doing so to honor God, or because they are fulfilling His call upon their life. Some decided to be teachers to prove to everyone they are right and holy. Some see it as an opportunity to share their opinions, making sure they get heard. This warning is to hinder those seeking teaching positions in the church for incorrect reasons.
Teachers in the church are held to a higher standard because their words carry influence. The more words they share, the higher the likelihood they may stumble in what they say. God will judge them not only for those words, but the impact they have on the fellowship.
Verses 3-8 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small party of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James gives us all the examples of the power contained by the human tongue. By referencing the tongue, James is not literally meaning the body part, but our words. Words have the power burn down our worlds. Reminds me of a quote from my younger brother Travis, when he was having girlfriend troubles, “I don’t need a shovel to dig holes, I have words.”
The comparison to the animal kingdom and creation is interesting. Remember when man was first created, way back in Genesis, we were given authority over the animal kingdom. For the most part, we continue to be able to maintain our control. However, the one thing man has never been able to conquer is our own tongue. Words get us in trouble, whether they were spoken to get us in trouble or not.
Our words reveal the true state of our hearts. Make no mistake, we choose our words, but those words reflect the state of our heart. A heart ruled by sin is destined to vomit out a train wreck.
Verses 9-12 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. Continuing his discussion on the tongue, James uses contrasting elements to show the difference of a tongue controlled by the fires of hell or the love of the Savior. Like salt and fresh water do not come from the same spring, neither should unwholesome words come from a believer. Blessing our friends and cursing those who offend us should not becoming from the mouth of a Christian.
Our tongue should not be inconsistent with our beliefs. Nor should our tongue be attacking those who offend us. If you and I chose to do otherwise, then we cannot be in line with the faith in Jesus. This is the same Jesus who stood silent before the courts who falsely accused him. Silence is better than sin or influencing others to sin.
What does this have to do with the 2020 election? Words still matter. We will see political candidates attack each other. The world will be attacking the candidates they do not like, and the enemies who support that candidate they do not like. But as followers of Jesus Christ, this is not to be us. Slander, hate, and quarrelling is contrary to the work of the Spirit in our lives.
In 2020, this still applies to our tongues. However, the tongue has evolved. Google, Bing, and the other internet search engines have made knowledge available with a mouse click or pressed thumb. Therefore, we are all now experts (or teachers) and can speak through the power of social media. The keyboard is now an extension of our tongue, with the benefit of being able to hide behind a screen. We have the freedom of speech and now the ability to hide after the speech.
Even though it is with a computer or mobile keyboard, words still matter. The things we post, both in response and reaction, are to be consistent with our faith in Jesus. This means if we are not posting to inform, encourage, or empower then we should be silent.
Trying to be silent reveals the difficulty in trying to control our tongues, even more so with the added dimension of the keyboard. Man has tried for centuries and failed. And I am sure your mouth has gotten you in trouble more times than you can count. This is an impossible mission for you or me on our own. But with God all things are possible, and His Spirit lives in you.
In the book of Daniel, you and I find God performing a miracle. His servant Daniel was setup and arrested because He was praying to God. King Darius knew it was wrong, but because of his hastily made law, he cast Daniel into a den of lions. Lions who were hungry, used as a means of execution. God’s miracle was not giving Daniel super strength, changing King Darius’s mind, nor was it getting the jerks to repent. He shut the mouths of the lions so they could not devour Daniel. If God has the power to shut the mouths of the lions, He can teach you to discipline your tongue. Even through the keyboard.
Season 1 Episode 33, "Most important question." The text for the message is from Mark 8:27-30, part 1 of a series called The Son of Man. The question we are trying to answer is "What is the most important question?"