Unifying Church Members

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Our tongue has the power to unite or divide.

James(3) (Part of the I Am A Church Member(6) series)
by Stuart Johns(233) on January 7, 2018 (Sunday Morning(343))

Gossip(1), Tongue(1), Unifying(1), Unity(6)


Unifying Church Members

(James 3:1-12)



Hearing the word “cancer” is perhaps the hardest thing anyone can go through. ​​ It takes your breath away and instills fear immediately. ​​ It’s been said that everybody has cancer cells in their body, but it’s what triggers those cancer cells to begin growing that’s the real problem. ​​ Most people perhaps don’t even know what caused them to begin growing. ​​ In some cases it can be environmental conditions. ​​ So where you live can cause those cells to start growing. ​​ You may not have been aware that you were surrounded by those environmental conditions.


Once those cancer cells begin growing there are at least four ways of dealing with it.

  • One way is the natural way. ​​ It’s providing your body with good food that has not been processed or has had the least amount of processing done to it.

  • A second way is what most people go through. ​​ It’s a harsh chemical and radiation treatment that kills not only the cancer cells, but also healthy cells. ​​ This can be coupled with surgery.

  • A third response is that some people do nothing; they ignore it, which is certain death.

  • The final way of dealing with cancer is what I recommend and it is seeking healing through the power of God (this approach can be done in cooperation with the first one mentioned – providing your body with the best, natural, wholesome foods possible)

    • We’ve been experiencing some great Biblical teaching on healing, the third Wednesday evening of every month

    • We’ve been building a strong foundation so we can say with confidence that it is God’s will to heal everyone

    • We saw this past month how forgiveness of sins and healing of diseases go hand in hand in the Bible

    • Healing and health in the Old Testament were based on obedience to the Lord (Exodus 15:26)

    • In the New Testament, forgiveness of sins and healing are also on the same basis – faith in the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary (Psalm 103:2-3; James 5:15; Mark 16:16-18)



  • ME

    • Both grandfather’s

        • Both of my grandfather’s died from cancer

        • My Pappy Hykes was diagnosed with cancer after having exploratory surgery and died three weeks later on July 3, 1981– he was too weak to have radiation or chemotherapy

        • My Pappy Johns fought cancer for 13 years with radiation and chemotherapy treatments

        • He died 1 year, 1 month, and 1 day after my Pappy Hykes on August 4, 1982

    • Other family members and friends with cancer

        • My Grandma Johns is a breast cancer survivor

        • I have had other family members who died from various cancers

        • My best friend in Missouri, Dwane, fought a brain tumor for several years before being promoted to heaven


  • WE

    • Natural Way

        • I’m sure you know individuals who have chosen to treat cancer with natural remedies

        • There are those within the church who are doing that

    • Chemo and Radiation

        • You probably know someone who has gone through surgery, chemo, and radiation treatments

        • We have those in our congregation who have done that and may still be going through that

    • Ignore it

        • Maybe you’ve known someone who ignored their diagnosis of cancer and chose not to treat it at all

        • They chose quality of life over the harsh chemical treatments

        • Perhaps they have passed on or are currently in the battle against cancer

    • God’s healing

        • We have individuals in our congregation who have taken the route of trusting God by faith to bring healing to their bodies

        • They coupled that with a homeopathic approach also, which fuels their body with good, wholesome, natural foods

    • Body of Christ

        • We learned last week from 1 Corinthians 12 that the church is just like a human body

        • There are many parts that work together to keep the unity that the Holy Spirit has already produced

        • Just like the human body can be plagued with cancer, the church can be plagued with a cancer that causes it to not function in a unified way

        • One of the most damaging cancers found in the body of Christ is gossip and other negative talk

        • In his Epistle, James talks about how easy it is for you and me to use our tongues for evil

        • Sometimes we do it right after we have praised God, without even thinking about it

        • We’ll see today how that can happen


BIG IDEA – Our tongue has the power to unite or divide.


  • GOD (James 3:1-12)

    • All Stumble (vv. 1-2)

        • Teaching, especially in the Jewish culture, was highly valued and respected as a profession

        • James is warning believers to be careful about their desire to be teachers, because they are held to a higher standard

          • A teacher’s responsibility is great

            • My Spanish teacher in High School was from Brazil

            • The native language of Brazil is Portuguese

            • There was a couple of times that she came back the next day and apologized to the whole class

            • The teaching that she had done the day before was in Portuguese and not Spanish

            • I’m not certain how close the two languages are, but I’m still not sure which language I actually learned

            • The Spanish phrase I used most often in class was “Yo no sé” (“I don’t know”)

          • Everyone is listening to what you say and watching what you do

          • As spiritual teachers, people are basing their spiritual lives on your example and your words

            • 2 Timothy 2:15, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

            • It is important that those who teach spend time studying God’s Word and praying for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom

        • James understands the pull of sin even in the lives of believers

          • He includes himself in the stumbling

          • We all stumble in many ways

          • Examples of an untamed tongue include gossiping, putting others down, bragging, manipulating, false teaching, exaggerating, complaining, flattering, and lying.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, 2249]

          • You know where you stumble when it comes to sin in your own life

          • Satan knows which buttons to push and which temptations to present you with each day

          • Those habitual sins are the ones you are constantly confessing to God, pleading with Him to remove the desire from you

          • If you’ve stopped trying to resist the evil, fleshly desires than Satan has won

          • If you’re continuing to fight and battle against those evil, fleshly desires that’s good

          • 1 John 4:4, You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

          • You have the Holy Spirit of God living in you, as a follower of Jesus Christ, to strengthen you for the fight

        • Guiding principle

          • Is James saying that if I hold my tongue and not speak, that I’ll never sin?

          • We all know that’s not true – a person can keep their speech under control and still sin in other ways

          • James is going to explain further in the text that no man has ever tamed the tongue

          • Jesus taught about our words and where they come from

            • Luke 6:43-45, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. ​​ Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. ​​ People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. ​​ The good man brings up good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. ​​ For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

            • Matthew 12:33-37, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. ​​ You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? ​​ For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. ​​ The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. ​​ But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. ​​ For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

            • What comes out of your mouth is an indication of what’s in your heart

            • This is how you can come and praise God and turn right around and gossip or speak negatively about someone, because that’s what’s in your heart

            • Part of taming the tongue is the ability to control your desire to say what you shouldn’t

            • You and I can justify saying something we shouldn’t by starting it off like this:

              • “Well, I just have to tell the truth!”

              • “I really need to get this off my chest.”

              • “We should pray for so-and-so, because they are dealing with such-and-such.”

            • Before you speak, you need to ask yourself three questions:

              • Is what I want to say true?

              • Is it necessary?

              • Is it kind?

            • Matthew 12:36-37 says that you will be held accountable on the day of judgment for every careless word you’ve spoken – your words will either acquit you or condemn you – it’s very serious

            • Read Matthew 23:25-28 [Bible marker #1]

              • Jesus is gentle with the Pharisees, but also bold

              • He doesn’t back away from saying what needs to be said

              • The only way you and I can deal with the desire to gossip, put others down, complain, or anything else pertaining to the tongue is to ask God to cleanse what’s in your heart

              • You and I need to deal with what’s on the inside first and then we won’t have to worry about an untamed tongue

              • You can’t do it on your own – it’s impossible

              • You have to commit your heart to the Lord each day and ask Him to cleanse you from the inside out

          • If a person could tame their tongue they would be a perfect person, able to keep their whole body in check

    • Positive illustrations (vv. 3-5a)

        • The horse

          • The bit in the horse’s mouth is small, but with it the horse can be made to obey

          • You can turn the whole animal by using the bit properly

        • The ship

          • Think of the largest ship you can – maybe an aircraft carrier

          • When a storm comes up, that huge ship can be pushed by the wind and the waves

          • The captain of the ship can still steer it from the helm

          • As he turns the wheel, the tiny rudder (in comparison to the ship) responds and moves the ship in the direction the captain desires

        • The tongue

          • The tongue can make great boasts

            • Boasting is not necessarily bad – it’s based on what you’re boasting about

            • Paul says that he will not boast in anything, but Jesus Christ

            • You and I can make great boasts for Christ

          • If Jesus is your rider, He can help you to obey Him with your tongue

          • If Jesus is your captain, He can steer you away from using your tongue in the wrong way

          • It’s all about what’s inside – do you allow the Holy Spirit of God to control and guide your heart?

          • That’s the part of you that thinks and feels

          • You’re going to struggle with this area if you’ve never repented of your sins and received Jesus Christ as your Savior, because the Holy Spirit is only given to those who are followers of Jesus Christ

    • Tongue tragedies (vv. 5b-8)

        • Forest fires

          • When we lived in California there was always the fear of flash fires especially during the hot and dry season with the Santa Ana winds

          • Almost every fire that starts during the fire season was set on purpose

          • It only took a small spark on the dry ground and brush, and before you know it, there is that eerie reddish/orange glow just over the hillside that is very visible at nighttime

        • Fiery tongue

          • The tongue is small in comparison to the body, but it is just like a fire that can spread rapidly through your own life and the lives of those around you

          • How many of you have ever said something in anger that you’d never say otherwise and later wished you could take back?

          • Perhaps you’ve done that with your spouse or your children

            • You can see the pain your words have caused in your wife or husband’s eyes

            • Your child’s eyes fill with tears as they absorb the harsh words you’re speaking to them

          • Maybe you’ve exploded verbally at work towards another co-worker and had to return later to apologize

            • While they forgave you, the hurtful words are still in their mind

            • They now know how you really feel about them

          • You and I try so hard to cover up how we really feel about someone, but when a stressful situation presents itself those true feelings come out

        • Poisonous tongue

          • While all kinds of animals have been tamed by humans the tongue is one thing that man has never tamed

          • Even the poisonous viper has been tamed, but our tongues can be more poisonous than that

          • Psalm 140:1-3, Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; protect me from men of violence, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. ​​ They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips.

    • Contradictions (vv. 9-12)

        • Morally

          • We come to church on Sunday and sing praises to God

            • Then as we drive to work on Monday we curse or speak negatively about the person driving in front of us or the person who is riding on our tail

              • Those individuals have been made in God’s likeness

              • They are His creation

            • Then we talk badly about someone we saw at church and how they were dressed or something they said

            • Then we complain to someone about the worship or the length of the sermon or the style of the sermon or the special music

          • Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing

          • James says this should not be the case!

          • It’s contradictory to what you say you believe and in Whom you say you believe – it doesn’t show the love that Paul expresses in 1 Corinthians 13, that we looked at last week

        • Naturally

          • James uses unnatural conditions that cannot exist as examples

          • Fresh water and salt water cannot come from the same spring – the salt water will overpower the fresh water

          • Every fruit tree will bear its own kind of fruit, it will not bear another kind of fruit

          • Grapevines will not produce figs, but rather grapes

          • A salt spring cannot produce fresh water

            • This is a reminder of what we spoke about earlier

            • Whatever is in the heart is what will come out of the mouth

            • The fruit of your mouth will not be different than what is in your heart, which is the seat of your emotions and feelings

            • “As is the root, so will be the fruit.” ​​ [Beacon Bible Commentary, 224]

Our tongue has the power to unite or divide.


  • YOU

    • Dealing with gossip and negative speech

        • As believers, how we deal with the cancer of gossip and other negative talk in the body of Christ is very important

        • Listen to what the wisest man who ever lived has to say about gossip and the incorrect use of your tongue:

          • Read Proverbs 6:16-19 [Bible marker #2]

          • Proverbs 16:28, A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends. ​​ (NIV)

          • Proverbs 17:4, Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander (NLT)

          • Proverbs 17:9, He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. ​​ (NIV)

          • Proverbs 18:8, The words of a gossip are like choice morsels, they go down to a man’s inmost parts. ​​ (NIV)

          • Proverbs 20:19, A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. ​​ (NIV)

          • Read Proverbs 26:20-22 [Bible marker #3]

        • David has some important things to say also:

          • Read Psalm 34:11-14 [Bible marker #4]

          • Psalm 101:5, Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure. ​​ (NIV)

        • The Apostles give great counsel:

          • Ephesians 4:29, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. ​​ (NIV)

          • James 4:11, Brothers, do not slander one another. ​​ Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. ​​ When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. ​​ There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. ​​ But you – who are you to judge your neighbor? ​​ (NIV)

          • 1 Peter 3:10, Peter is quoting Psalm 34:12-16

    • It can be dealt with in one of three ways – ignore it; treat it naturally; or work to remove it

        • Ignoring it

          • If we ignore it then it’s a guarantee that this body of Christ will die

          • So, leaving it untreated is not an option

          • You and I cannot turn our backs on it, we can’t turn a blind eye to it

        • Naturally

          • Treating cancer in the human body is done by filling it with a good, wholesome diet and proper exercise

          • The same is true of the body of Christ

          • You and I must fill up the body of Christ with a good, wholesome diet and proper exercise

          • The best diet you can get is the Word of God – the Bible

            • It’s not just coming on Sunday morning to hear the pastor preach

            • It’s filling yourself up every day with personal Bible study and prayer

            • It’s filling yourself up once a week with small group Bible study and prayer

          • Treating the cancer of gossip and negative talk naturally, involves allowing Jesus to be the rider and the captain of your heart and asking Him to cleanse your heart daily

            • I’m talking to those who have already repented of their sins, but you’ve taken back the reigns and the helm of your heart

            • Perhaps you’re ready to give the reigns and the helm back to Jesus today

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Allow Jesus to be the rider and captain of my heart and seek His cleansing on a daily basis, so that what comes out of my mouth will be the good that He has placed there.

          • Perhaps you’ve never repented of your sins and ask Jesus Christ to be your Savior

            • You can use your tongue in a good way today

            • Read Romans 10:8-10 [Bible marker #5]

            • Maybe you grew up in the church, so you know the Bible

            • The verses you learned as a child are in your heart and you can say them with your mouth

            • Don’t hesitate, today is the day of salvation for you

            • Make Jesus the rider and captain of your life

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask Jesus to come into my life and save me from my sins, so I can have the power of the Holy Spirit living in me to guide my speech.

          • Treating the cancer of gossip and negative talk naturally, involves not participating in it or starting it yourself

            • Read Psalm 15:1-5 [Bible marker #6]

            • God calls us to be morally upright

            • He gives us ten standards to determine how we’re doing

        • Remove it with love

          • . . . if someone in the church begins to share gossip with you, gently rebuke him or her. ​​ You don’t have to be harsh in your response to them. ​​ Kindly say that you would rather not hear any gossip and you would hope it wouldn’t continue to spread.” ​​ [Rainer, I Am A Church Member, 26]

          • When you do this, the person who is trying to spread gossip or negative talk will probably feel like you are being harsh

            • When they use surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to remove cancer from the human body it is harsh – it hurts

            • The hope is that through the pain the cancer will be completely removed

          • There will probably be pain involved with removing gossip and negative talk from the church

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to gently rebuke anyone who is gossiping or speaking negatively about someone else, through the power of the Holy Spirit living in me.


  • WE

    • Unified church

        • As each person recognizes that they cannot ignore the cancer of gossip in the church and strives to fill their heart with a good, wholesome diet and proper exercise and is willing to gently remove any gossip and negative talk, then the church will be a place of joy and unity

        • 1 Peter 3:10, For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”



. . . Make it pass,

Before you speak, three gates of gold:

These narrow gates. ​​ First, “Is it true?”

Then, “Is it needful?” ​​ In your mind

Give truthful answer. ​​ And the next

Is last and narrowest, “Is it kind?”

And if to reach your lips at last
It passes through these gateways three,

Then you may tell the tale, nor fear

What the result of speech may be.


(Beth Day).


You received another bookmark today. ​​ It has the poem I just read from Beth Day on one side and The Second Pledge from I Am A Church Member.


The Second Pledge

I am a church member.


“I will seek to be a source of unity in my church. ​​ I know there are no perfect pastors, staff, or other church members. ​​ But neither am I. ​​ I will not be a source of gossip or dissension. ​​ One of the greatest contributions I can make is to do all I can in God’s power to help keep the church in unity for the sake of the gospel.”