[Thought questions for Taming the Tongue November 11, 2014]
1. But it’s so strong! Have you ever heard that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body? That’s actually a myth. When it comes to strength, the tongue comes in behind the strongest group of muscles—those that close the jaw. Do both types of muscle play a role in what we say? Do the words we speak reflect what we think? Have you ever been hurt by somebody’s words? Or hurt someone else by something you said? This week you are invited to join fellow believers in following the words of the apostle James, who took a strong position regarding words.
2. “Only a few of you should be teachers!” What worries James about the life and influence of teachers? How much of a teacher’s work day is spent speaking words? Our lesson writers for this week look at theology teachers in particular for not recommending enough reliance on faith in their lectures. What about biology teachers? Or teachers of literature? Or professors of logic or advanced mathematics? Do parents have more responsibility than teachers to let God direct their words? Explain your answer.
3. Word Power. How powerful can words be? What do you think when you see crowds of people on the TV news shouting out cruel slogans or harsh words? Are wars made worse by what people are saying? Can words be helpful? Have you ever suffered from physical sickness, discouragement, or severe financial problems and then felt the comfort of words you have heard spoken or read from the Bible that seemed to ease the pain? Have you ever asked the Lord to make you aware of someone who needs a word of encouragement—and then spoke those words? Should we do more of that?
4. James, the ship and the horse. What do the ship and the horse of James 3:3-5 have to do with words? Should we speak up when someone misinterprets Scripture? Always? If not, then under what circumstances? Can a word or two or a small act change the tone and intent of a conversation? Think of an example. How can you and I master the art of speaking softly, to turn away wrath? Or speaking boldly, to support the teachings of Scripture?
5. Damage Control. Two communities in forested land are experiencing heavy smoke. In one community the smoke comes from a forest fire working its way towards the homes of people. In another community the smoke comes from a “voluntary burn” of forested land that has stood for more than 100 years and is being cleaned up. Do both types of fire require management and control? What about ideas and criticism that form in our church? What are some examples of damage control that can help keep dangerous ideas from taking over and weakening the church? Or will words always win?