Sticks & Stones Wk 2 // The Power of Words
- Share with the group about a time when you spoke too soon and ended up saying something you regretted.
- What are all the ways you can think of that people sin with their speech?
Spend a few minutes recapping Pastor Mike's sermon together. Click here to view the sermon notes.
- What was one takeaway from this week's sermon for you?
- Were there any stories, ideas, or points that stuck out?
- Was there anything that challenged you?
Everyone struggles with sin. Some sins may be more specific to certain people. Not everyone will deal with an addiction to alcohol or drugs. Though all lie, not everyone has a huge problem being dishonest. Yet, every one of us has gotten into trouble at some point for the things we have said. All of us have put our foot in our mouth. We all have gossiped, unhelpfully criticized, condescended, or said something crude. The tongue is a great indicator of our spiritual health. Because of this, James devoted a whole section of his practical letter to address the relationship between our faith and our words.
Have a volunteer read James 3:1-2.
James first addressed people who teach. Whether or not you teach in a Bible study or a school classroom, we all teach others about ourselves through what we say.
- What have you been teaching through your words, even over this past week?
- You might say that controlling our tongue leads to controlling our thumbs. That is, we speak not only through our words, but also through social media presence. What does it look like to take James’s advice to heart in your online presence?
- Why do we tend to view what we post online as less serious than words we speak elsewhere?
- What are we teaching our Facebook friends and the people on the other end of our conversations about ourselves?
What we teach is a good indicator of what we believe because the aim of teaching is to communicate our beliefs to someone else. Yet any time we open our mouths, we are teaching other people who we really are. Verse 2 takes a holistic look at what we say. Nothing we say is missed by God. Jesus said that we will be judged for everything we say. The word translated “empty” or “idle” means unproductive or without thought. The reason this is so closely connected with our spiritual health is because a good way to measure spiritual health is what you do without thinking. If the default setting of your heart leads you to say things that you wish you hadn’t, it might be time for a heart check.
Have a volunteer read James 3:3-8.
- Our tongues have the power to direct and to destroy. What analogies did James use to describe this power? When do you first remember seeing the power your words could have?
A small mechanism on the back end of a ship guides the entire vessel through the water. A small spark can ignite a flame that burns down a city. Such is the power our tongues have to give life or to bring death. Satan led Eve into sin through his words. The saying “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a good reply on a playground, but that saying is disproven every time a kid comes crying to his mom after someone has hurt his feelings. If anything, words are more painful than physical hurt because words reach us at our core, and they stay with us forever. With such power to direct and destroy, we need to be more careful in our speech.
Have a volunteer read James 3:9-12.
- While most of our discussion has focused on the evil that words can do, we need to have a balanced approach. What power do our words have for delight?
- When we come to church or a group like this one and fill ourselves with truth, what impact should that have on how we speak when we leave? If it doesn’t, what have we missed?
Words have the power to give pleasure and delight to the one listening. It is a word from the Lord that saved us. Likely, you have words that have stuck with you because they continue to encourage you. The point of this section is that what we hear from the Lord should change and shape the way we speak. If Jesus is Lord of all, He is Lord of our words. We are called to use our words in a way that gratifies and brings honor to Him. We are to encourage and correct one another with gentleness, love, and respect. When our tongue is mastered by the Holy Spirit, our words become life-giving and delightful.
- Has someone ever said something to you, whether good or bad, that stuck with you over the years? How does this demonstrate the unique power of words?
- What ability do our words have both to strengthen and harm our witness for Jesus with our friends, family, and coworkers?
- What are some helpful words you need to speak? To whom will you speak them? When will you speak them?
Thank God for the gift of words, particularly His Word that points us to love and truth. Ask God to help us control and tame our words so that we can bless Him and build one another up.