IV. Accountability of Teachers. James 3:1-18
A. Control (Godly). 3:1-12
To understand the context of these verses, we must remember the foundational truth James stated in chapter one, that trials, when rightly understood and submitted to, will encourage the development of the believer into the perfect man.
Now another characteristic of the perfect man is noted – the ability to control the tongue.
1. The decision to lead must be made in the assurance of God’s will. James 3:1,2
The leader is in a position of blessing –
1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
But, we must realize that –
a. The leader is responsible to know God’s will.
b. The leader is responsible to direct in God’s way.
c. The leader is accountable to God.
1 Peter 5:1-4 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
1). He must take his position seriously –
Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
2). He must take his preparation seriously –
Matthew 12:36-37 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by they words thou shalt be condemned.
2. The dominion of man. 3:3,4
a. God has given man dominion over the earth, to subdue and control –
Genesis 1:26-28 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
b. God has given man the wisdom and ability to fulfill his command.
1). Men have developed ways and means to have dominion over the animals – to train them to serve man. “…we put bits in horses mouths, that they may obey us…”
2). Men have developed ways and means to harness the power of creation itself to accomplish the goals of man. “…yet they are turned about with a very small helm, witheroever the governor listeth.” (desires)
3). Men have developed respect for the limitations involved in each of these endeavors. Sin has reduced man’s ability in the accomplishment of dominion. Creatures and creation may turn on man and destroy him.
Leviticus 26:20-22 And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits. And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.
4). Men have developed a respect for the person of God through the revelation of His absolute power and authority of both creature and creation.
Luke 8:24-25 And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.
If we would fulfill the will of God, we must learn to submit to God, then His will shall be accomplished through His working in us and through us.
In order to overcome, we must humble ourselves and submit!
The question is presented forcefully in James 3:3,4 – “Behold….Behold…”, yet we have so little control over the things that we say! The fact is – We are often unconcerned about the condition of our hearts!
3. The danger of lack of control. 3:5-8
Fires of unconcern – in America in the early 1940’s an icon was created to remind people of the danger of forest fires. The destruction caused by major forest and wild fires each year is beyond calculating in monetary value. In 2003 in a forest in southern California, a man who had gotten lost lit a small signal fire, hoping that someone would see the smoke and rescue him. The fire got out of control and eventually destroyed 280,000 acres of forest (twice the size of Singapore). The icon created by the government is Smokey the Bear. His purpose is to constantly remind people of the danger and he has always had one message – “Only you can prevent forest fires”!
This tragedy is an illustration of careless destruction of property, but in reality is no comparison to the emotional and spiritual destruction caused by an untamed heart spewing forth careless words.
4. The difficulty of this control. 3:9-12
Is it possible that while so much effort is invested in dominion over the creatures and creation, we have little desire to control our tongues?
We feel entitled to our opinions and obligated to express them without fear or favour. We must remember that our words can destroy. Our words reflect the condition of our heart?
Are our hearts right with God today?
Are you a child of God, having your faith in Him for salvation through the finished work of His blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross, was buried, and rose again the third day –
Romans 10:9-13 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Do you have a bitter heart, one that you cannot seem to control – call upon the Lord for His help – Remember the Israelites as they came out of Egypt and needed pure water –
Exodus 15:23-25 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
God can and will make the bitter heart sweet if you call upon Him!