Sermon by Mark Adams, Redland Baptist Church, 1997

Scripture: James 3:1-12

Washington Irving said, “A sharp tongue is the only edge tool that grows keener with constant use.

1. Perhaps the most common way in which the tongue hurts is when it is used for gossip.

GOSSIP is saying negative things about a person when they are not present. It can also involve the telling of a truth that does not need to be told for the purpose of hurting someone. Sometimes gossip involves simply asking questions like, “Is George faithful to his wife?” Sometimes we gossip by saying nothing when we hear things that we know are not true and say nothing to correct them. We also promote gossip by simply listening to it. Remember, there can be no gossip if there are no listening ears. Why is Gossip so destructive? It spreads uncontrollably and warps the truth.

2. The tongue can do damage through slander.

This is defined as saying negative things about someone else in their presence. The word “SLANDER” literally means “ripping of flesh”. When applied to speech it is a put down–intentionally hurting someone with the words you say about them.

3. The tongue can do damage through lies and exaggerations.

A local church body cannot be healthy if lying is a common practice within its membership. Ephesians 4:25 – “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” If your body worked in this deceitful way, it wouldn’t be long before it was no longer functioning. And the same is true of the church. When we don’t put away truthless-ness,  people become afraid to reach out; they don’t know whom to trust.

4. The tongue can do damage through grumbling and complaining.

Even when we try to resist being influenced by such negativism, we find some of it rubbing off. This passing around of the poison of pessimism happens every day, and it steals our joy. (Philippians 2:14-15; Luke 6:45)

This sermon was edited for brevity. You can read the original sermon in its entirety here.