CONTROLLING OUR WORDS
Scripture: Exodus 20:7; Proverbs 10:19, 15:28, 20:19; Colossians 3:9, James 3:2–12
Memory verse: Psalm 19:14
"Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."
Bring to class a picture of a ship to use during a discussion. Hold up the picture of the ship. (Ask how a huge ship can be turned to go the right direction. Let the students give their opinions.) Then explain that by turning a small steering piece called a rudder the ship will move in the desired direction.
(Tell the students that rudders are all small, but can do powerful things.) In our lesson this week they will learn about a small but extremely powerful part of the body that can either help or hurt.
Hearing God’s Word
We can often understand a thing better when it is compared to something we are familiar with.
Our Words are Like Fire
The Bible compares something in people to a small spark of fire. This part of us is small, but can cause us a lot of problems and can hurt those around us. What does James 3:6 say is like a fire? (Let a student read this verse.) A small spark left unchecked can cause much destruction. It is the same with the words we speak.
James 3 also compares our tongues with some other things. (Read verses 3 through 5 and name those things. (Allow responses.) Our tongues are like a bit in a horse’s mouth, or a rudder on a ship. A spark, a bit, and a rudder are small, yet they can do great things for good or evil.
James went on to say that animals can be tamed by people, but no person can tame the tongue. It has the power to be unruly and full of deadly poison.
Ask: “Does that mean there is no hope for controlling our tongues?” (Allow responses.)
People cannot tame the tongue, but God can if people will let Him.
Our Words Show Our Love for God
Some people claim to be very religious. They may even go to church and give lots of money in the offering. But they swear, lie, gossip, criticize, and make fun of others. What does James 1:26 tell us about those kinds of people? (Let a student read the verse.)
These people are deceiving themselves about their religion; it really isn’t worth anything. The words we say—in public and in private—reveal how deep our Christian commitment really is. Can water be clear and pure if it comes from a stream into which a sewer drains? Certainly not. It is the same with our words. If we swear, lie, or say hateful things, it is because God does not have full control of our lives. The secret of having our tongues under control is to have our hearts right with God.
David was described as being a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Even David knew he needed God’s help in thinking and talking the way he should. David prayed that his speech and his thoughts would be pleasing and acceptable to God. Part of his prayer is our memory verse this week (Repeat the verse several times with the students.)
Wise Uses of Words
Ask: “A fire is not always bad, is it? What are some good things fire does for us? (Allow responses.)
Emphasise such things as heating, lighting, cooking, drying, and destroying unwanted garbage or littler.
In a similar way words are not always sources of evil. They can also be tools for good. (Have several students use the following Scripture references to name good uses of the tongue: Acts 26:25; Mark 16:17; and Psalm 119:172.)
Solomon was a wise man, and he had lots of good advice .In fact, the Book of Proverbs contains many of Solomon’s wise sayings. (If time allows, assign the following Scripture references to various students: Proverbs 10:19; 15:28; 20:19; 29:11, 31:26. Let each student locate the verse and read it aloud to the rest of the class.)
The Danger of Gossip
Christians have the responsibility to use speech in ways that will build people up and not tear them down. One way our words cause damage is through gossip. Listen and you will discover how this can be.
A young Christian couple was eating at a restaurant. Both were faithful church attendees. The lady’s father was a minister. At the same restaurant, another member of the church, Mrs. V, was eating. Mrs. V was shocked to see the waitress place two foaming mugs in front of the couple. The amber liquid was in mugs clearly labelled with a name of beer. Later Mrs. V mentioned what she had seen to another church member, Miss R.
“What a stumbling block!” Mrs. V gasped. “Think of the position her father holds. And to look at them in church you would think they were such good Christians.”
Miss R listened to Mrs. V’s story. She was sorry to hear it, but she had no reason to disbelieve it. Mrs. V seemed certain of what she had seen. However, Miss R decided not to repeat the story. She knew that spreading such things wouldn’t serve any good purpose.
Later Miss R went to the same restaurant. When her order arrived she was shocked. Her coke had foam on the top and was in a beer mug! Miss R quickly looked around to see if anyone she knew was in the restaurant. Mrs. V made a couple of mistakes in this story.
Ask: How did Miss R’s actions please God?” (Allow responses.)
She chose not to carry the story any further. She decided to let God handle the situation rather than telling another person.
Ask: “What should Miss R do now that she knows the truth?” (Allow responses.)
Solomon said that talking too much gets us and others into trouble. Soon we run out of good things to say and start talking about things we don’t know anything about. We end up gossiping and hurting other people’s feelings.
Misusing God’s Name
(Ask a student to read Exodus 20:7.) You will recognize this as one of the Ten Commandments. It is still true today, just as it was when God gave it.
Ask: “What does misusing God’s name mean?” (Allow responses.)
Another word for this is profanity. Something very close to profanity is an oath. (Ask a student to read Matthew 5:33–37). God’s name is holy. Any reference to God or His character said in a way that doesn’t give honour to Him is wrong. A Christian should avoid using God’s name at all unless he is talking to God or specifically about God.
Telling the Truth
Another obvious way we can honour God is by being truthful. (Let a student read Colossians 3:9.) Lying takes on many forms, such as exaggeration or stretching the truth, or telling “little lies.” These lies are sometimes told to avoid an uncomfortable situation or to get ourselves out of a jam. But all lies are sin. They never honour God. Once a Christian is caught in a lie, his witness is discredited.
Finally, our words can do wrong when we use them to impress others and make ourselves look good. Sincere compliments are always in order. Everyone likes praise. But insincere statements given in order to get something or win favour are wrong. Such insincere statements are called flattery. A Christian’s words should be honest without any motive for personal benefit.
James said the tongue is an unruly evil full of poison. But this is the tongue in its natural, ungodly state. When God is given total control of our lives, our lips, voice, and tongue begin to come under His control. He helps us grow in Him so our words can witness for Jesus and do positive things. Have you given Jesus control of your speech?
Accepting God’s Word
Words are very powerful. They are part of how we are saved. (Have students read 1 John 1:9 and Romans 10:9,10. Explain the plan of salvation. Briefly: Admit you have sinned. Believe in Jesus as Saviour. Confess sin to Jesus.
(Invite any who have not yet received Jesus to do so now. Pray individually with each one who responds).
Moroccan Arab Prayer
Loving God, have mercy on the Moroccan Arab people. They are physically attractive, gracious and hospitable, and personal relationships mean a lot to them. It is apparent that success and satisfaction are determined by healthy relationships. Broken relationships must be mended.
Lord, may Moroccan Arabs come to realize that their relationship with their Creator is broken. Help them see how their sin separates them from their God and how that broken relationship needs to be healed.
Caring God, send Your messengers to establish close relationships through which the gospel message can be communicated. May Moroccan Arabs recognize their need to be reconciled to You and understand that Jesus is the Mediator who can bring this about, make peace and establish a relationship that will last forever.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with Moroccan Arabs and bring them peace. Amen!
Study 10 | Jesus is Worthy/Witnessing | africaatts.org/go-teach