WHAT IS GRACEFULLY, REALLY
Well, we are in the 4th session of this little series about what ‘gracefully’ means. We’re in the 3rd chapter of the book of James. As I’ve said before, many Bible teachers, preachers and theologians believe that James gives a really good picture of what ‘grace’ really is. Of course, it means, ‘undeserved favor’ but we’ve been digging into the fact that the Lord wants us to show the same kind of ‘undeserved favor’ to others as He has shown to us - and the book of James gives us examples of how it works.
So - we’re starting James 3 today. I’m going to read the first two verses and then we’ll plow further about the point that James is getting to in this chapter. James 3:1-2 - “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.”
Now James is getting ready to delve into this subject about how important our words are, and he starts out by talking about TEACHERS. Now, I want to put this before you like this. First of all, I believe he is talking about ‘teaching the Word’, not teaching in other fields of life (like school teachers, etc.). I believe that this is being put before the body of Christ, in the Word of God, because God really desires that the TRUTH OF THE WORD OF GOD BE PUT FORTH TO THE CHILDREN OF GOD - NOT JUST WHAT INDIVIDUALS TEACH OTHERS FROM THEIR OWN PERSPECTIVE OF FIGURING IT OUT. Many lives have been ruined by teachings which are contrary to the TRUE WORD OF GOD.
I believe that people really have to have a calling upon their life from the Lord to teach His Word. People who have felt that they were good students, and therefore could be a good teacher - but they have not been told to do so by the Lord - often teach just stuff which sounds good and makes them look good. It ruins lives.
I’m going to share with you my own personal testimony in this realm. My husband had pastored two churches in Colorado and we both felt like the Lord was leading us back to Kansas City, Mo., our home town. So, that’s what we did. We moved back. After we’d been back for awhile, we both felt like the Lord was leading us to start our own church - so we did. We started having a Sunday morning service in our own house (we had a large comfortable room in our basement) and, after a few weeks, there were so many coming, that we had to start meeting in a community center.
Now, I had been fairly comfortable in leading a little women’s group in a morning, once a week. We’d sit in a circle and talk about a subject. Now, I had been pretty much of an introvert all my life because of the crossed eye from my childhood on - until I had surgeries to straighten it. Being in front of people terrified me. However, I was beginning to really love sharing the Word with the ladies. The Lord was showing me some things to share with the ladies and it was going well.
THEN - ONE DAY - the Lord told me that He wanted me to put the chairs in a line, like 6 or 7 chairs, and then more behind them, and then more behind them - and He wanted me to stand up and teach them what He had shown me! I cannot tell you how terrified I was. I talked to the Lord and honestly told Him about all my fears, etc. (of course, He already knew that) - and He talked back to me - in my heart. He told me that this was what He wanted me to do in my life - He told me that He wanted me to teach people - not just about doctrine, or do’s and don’ts, but He wanted me to teach people, FROM WHAT THE WORD SAYS - AND THEN - HOW DO YOU DO IT - IN AS SIMPLE WAY AS POSSIBLE. He told me that lots of Christians just get taught doctrine, but they struggle with how to put it into practice in their day-to-day lives. What a moment that was for me that day.
I did what He said to do with the chairs - BUT I WAS REALLY SCARED. I had to work at not shaking. The ladies started arriving and they looked at the chairs, with a questioning face. I just said, “God said to do it this way.” So they just started sitting down. When everybody got there, I knew it was time to start but I was so - so afraid of making a fool of myself. But, on the inside, I had this, going over and over in my mind, “God said to do it - so I’m going to do it!!!!!!!!!”
Then, finally, I got up, stood in front of them, and opened my mouth. I can’t explain it to you - BUT - every bit of the fear and anxiety was gone. Everything changed in my life that day.
Now, I shared that with you because I have learned that TRUE TEACHERS OF THE WORD ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN CALLED OF THE LORD TO DO IT AND THEY KNOW THEY CAN’T DO IT IN THEIR OWN STRENGTH - THEY HAVE TO DEPEND ON HIM!!!
Now - let me just share with you briefly how it went after that encounter with the Lord. We bought our building, which is a whole other story, got our church going, and I started having our weekly ladies meeting in our church. We had so many ladies coming, that we had them in the sanctuary, and I stood on the upper part, from which my husband preached. Lots of ladies were coming, who hadn’t been coming to our church, and they started coming with their families to our services. Several months later, a man, who was the husband of one of the women coming, came with his wife to the meeting - but he sat in the back by himself. Then, he came for two or three weeks. I didn’t know quite how to handle that. I thought that maybe he just had to be with her for some reason.
THEN - one day, after I got finished with the teaching, this man came up to where I was and said this - “You need to be teaching on Christian radio! If you’ll do it, I’ll pay for it!” I almost fainted. But, I looked him in the eye, and shook my head up and down, and I said, “Yes - I will do it!” Later in the day, when my husband and I were at home, I was kinda’ a nervous wreck, because I knew I needed to tell him about this but I was afraid that he was going to get his feelings hurt because the guy didn’t ask him. But instead, my husband stood in front of me with his hands on my shoulders (of course, he knew me pretty well, so he could tell what I was feeling) and he looked me in the eye and said, “Honey, if he asked you, then he asked me - because we are ONE!”
He built me a little recording area in one of our walk in closets, and helped me with all the necessary stuff to do this. I was on KCCV - Kansas City’s Christian Voice - for several years - The name of the daily show was, “Girl Talk,” and I was asked to teach in many areas of the Midwest.
Now, that second verse that I read says that “we all stumble in words,” and, of course, we all know that the words that come out of our mouths have sometimes been wrong - only a perfect person never says anything wrong - AND THERE WAS ONLY ONE PERFECT PERSON - AND HIS NAME WAS JESUS. So, I think the point that James is bringing before us is that the person teaching the Word should be someone who has had an encounter with the Lord and is determined to bring forth the TRUTH OF THE WORD OF GOD - not just something they think sounds good, or not just something that will get people to like you - and on and on.
Any real teacher of the Word knows that he or she must be accountable to the Lord for what comes out of the mouth - and also knows that they can’t do it in their own strength, but in His.
Now - listen to James 3:3 - “Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.” Now, I’ve only been on a horse a time or two in my life, but for some reason, as I watch movies on Pure Flix, I love the movies with horses in them - ranch movies, country movies, horse racing, etc. One of the things I love is watching the horse respond to the rider handling the things, in his hands, which pull or turn, the bits in the horse’s mouth.
Now James is likening that control over a horse’s mouth to us having control over our own mouths - BECAUSE WHAT COMES OUT OF OUR MOUTHS HAS AN EFFECT ON OUR OWN LIVES. WITH OUR WORDS, WE CAN CONTROL OUR OWN BODIES AND THOSE THINGS AROUND US. REMEMBER -
“DEATH AND LIFE ARE IN THE POWER OF THE TONGUE.” - Proverbs 18:21
Now - James 3:4 - “Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.” This verse gives another picture of something small controlling something that has so much power - just like what takes place with the horse. But, it also shows that something has to start the action, or the move. In other words, we can control the words that come out of our mouths.
James 3:5 - “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” I have heard it said, that those who refuse to control their words are playing with fire and will get burnt.
I really don’t believe that the majority of Christians in today’s world have been taught from this portion of Scripture regarding the words which come out of their mouths. They just figure that if they don’t cuss or swear anymore, they’re doing okay. But, I’m telling you, when you become aware that you are having a huge impact on your life by the words which are coming out of your mouth, you can experience some glorious changes in your life. If you’ve ever just heard yourself or someone else say, ‘Oh, I’m just so sick and tired of being sick and tired,’ I really think the Lord is also saying, “I AM TOO - SO WOULD YOU JUST BEGIN TO SEE YOURSELF THE WAY I SEE YOU AND SPEAK IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!”
Now, I know that it’s really hard to get ahold of this truth, but, if we’re really tired of BEING HUNG BY OUR TONGUE, we have to begin to see ourselves the way the Lord sees us and speak about ourselves the way the Lord has told us to in His Word.
Now, these next few verses kinda’ go together - So - I’m going to read James 3:6-12 - “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse man, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.”
Now - there is so much information for us in this portion of Scripture. Remember, I quoted Proverbs 18:21 a bit ago - “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” This is really explained in these verses. The words which come out of our mouths have an effect, not only on our lives, but on NATURE. The same way that our words can either bring sickness or health to our bodies - can also bring devastation or peace to the natural world around us.
We just saw that with hurricane Idalia. There were many of us telling that hurricane that it could not bring destruction to where we are - in Jesus name. Before the storm began, the maps on TV were showing US right in the middle of where it was coming. BUT - we spoke to it - and it had to obey! WE USED WORDS! AND IT COULDN’T COME WHERE WE WERE!
Also, the words that come out of our mouths have an effect on sickness - forcing it to go - or giving it room to stay. So many people have not been taught this. Some are saying, “Nothing ever goes right for me.” AND - that’s what they get! HOWEVER, WE HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT HEALING IS REALLY AVAILABLE TO US BECAUSE THE WORD SAYS SO! We can’t just try to say the right thing because somebody said to. We have to believe the promises of God. And we have to speak them! It’s not about begging God to do something for us. It’s about believing that He already has, and it’s up to us to use the authority He has given to us, and to see it as already done (because it is - in the spiritual world).
These verses are making it very clear that the words which come out of our mouths have a HUGE impact on our lives - in every area of life - physical, emotional, and on and on. Essentially, what this is saying is that our words are the fruit of what is in our hearts. The fig tree has to produce figs - the vine must produce olives - because that’s what is in the nature (or heart) of the tree or vine. So - o - o - brothers and sisters - what is in our hearts and is coming out of our mouths in our words is what is being lived out in the reality of our lives.
Now - am I saying that, if you are saying and producing bad in your life, that you are not a Christian? NO - NO - NO!!! If you have believed in your heart and spoken with your mouth that you believe that Jesus died for you and took your sins, YOU HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN. However, many Christians have not been taught the TRUTH OF THE WHOLE GOSPEL and kinda’ just live their lives, pretty much as they did before, but they know they have their ticket to Heaven. They haven’t been taught that they actually have a new spirit, and have in that new spirit, all the power they need to live the Jesus life here on this earth. So they still just live out of their soul, like they did before they were born again.
I have learned, in my life, that the promises in the Word of God are for me to believe and take seriously - therefore, I must speak them out of my mouth, and believe them in my heart. Brothers and sisters, the words which are coming out of our mouths, on a daily basis, are having a huge impact on our lives - and sometimes, we don’t even realize it.
Now - based on these verses about the words that we speak - let’s talk about what this has to do with living a “graceful life.” A lot of people really don’t have a clue about how much our spoken words affect our lives. I have learned, in my life, (now this is a very important truth) - THE WORDS WHICH COME OUT OF MY MOUTH - BOTH IN ONE-TO-ONE CONVERSATIONS, AS WELL AS IN GROUP CONVERSATIONS - MUST BE WHAT I BELIEVE IN MY HEART - AND THEY MUST BE IN LINE WITH THE WORD OF GOD!!!!!!!!!!!! AND YOU CAN’T BE SPEAKING IN LINE WITH THE WORD OF GOD IF YOU DON’T SPEND ANY TIME IN IT!!!
I tell you, brothers and sisters, over the last two weeks I have read from Genesis to Joshua. One day, I was thinking about how Moses heard from the Lord in such detail and could write about the creation and all that occurred before Moses was ever born - AND HAD HIM WRITE ALL ABOUT IT. I had read it all many times, of course, but I felt led by the Lord to read it now. As I read, the Lord just enlightened me and inspired me in all kinds of ways. I’m telling you - you never, never, never have just studied it until you have everything in your heart that the Lord desires to show you. He keeps showing us - all through our lives - as we read His Word.
Now - I have learned that our lives are deeply affected by the words which flow out of our mouths - thus - WE CAN BE THINKING THAT WE’VE GOT IT ALL DOWN PAT ABOUT WALKING THE WALK, AS A CHRISTIAN - BUT, OFTEN WE’RE NOT SEEING THE RESULTS WE THOUGHT WE WOULD - AND VERY OFTEN, IT’S BECAUSE OF OUR TONGUES.
Now - when that is the case, it is having an effect on the 24 hours every day - when we’re alone, or with family, or with friends, or at church………..! What comes out of our mouths is often hindering us from walking in all that God desires for us to walk in - IN HIS UNDESERVED FAVOR.
When we are walking in HIS GRACE, we are seeing ourselves like He sees us - we’re seeing our family members like He sees them - seeing our friends as He sees them - seeing the ones who are not our friends and we’re not wanting to befriend, as He sees them.
Now think about this - very often, the words which have come out of our own mouths (and our ears have heard) have had an effect on our own hearts concerning others, and even ourselves. Through our lives, with our own individual uniqueness, our backgrounds, our upraising, our troubles, our good stuff and our bad stuff, our words have painted a picture in our hearts and we’re living in the effects of that inside picture.
BUT GOD HAS ANOTHER PICTURE THAT HE WANTS TO BE IN OUR HEARTS - IT’S JESUS ON THAT CROSS - SUFFERING IN OUR PLACE - TAKING ALL OUR BAD AND PAYING A PRICE WE COULD NOT PAY. THEREFORE, HE WANTS US TO SEE THAT PICTURE IN OUR HEARTS AND, SEE OURSELVES TRULY AS NEW CREATURES IN CHRIST JESUS.
When, we have that new picture truly in our hearts, the words which come out of our mouths will be different about ourselves and everybody else and everything else. Thus - UNDESERVED FAVOR WILL BE FLOWING OUT OF OUR MOUTHS WITHOUT US HAVING TO TRY SO HARD.
Listen to this verse - 2 Corinthians 5:17 - “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”
Man oh Man - what a Scripture!!! Now this is what the Lord has shown me in this realm. When we really begin to get a grip on that picture of Jesus on that cross, paying for all our bad, we can also begin to see a picture of ourselves as new creatures in Christ Jesus. I like to picture Jesus on that cross, paying for my sins, and me, therefore totally free from all the bad - in the family of God - going to be with Him in eternity forever!!!!
Now - listen - when you begin to see yourself that way, the words which come out of your mouth are changed with very little effort on your part. You don’t even have to try so hard - because you find yourself living from the effects of your NEW BORN AGAIN SPIRIT ON THE REST OF YOUR BEING - YOUR SOUL AND YOUR BODY.
Verses like 2 Cor. 5:17 about being a new creation are not just fairy tales to try to make us feel better - THEY ARE THE TRUTH!
SO - to put this all in a nutshell - Taking the Word of God and the promises of God into our own individual selves, and believing it - will have an effect on the way we see ourselves - and on the words coming out of our mouths! Even, those words which you speak when you’re all by yourself, and you just whisper them, about people and situations!
As we control our tongues, like horses are controlled, and ships are controlled, we will begin to really see ourselves as new creations and it will not only have an effect on our lives but also on the lives around us. We will find ourselves, loving like God loves, treating people the way Jesus did here on the earth, having compassion for people.
In other words, brothers and sisters, TO LIVE LIFE GRACEFULLY, we have to truly take the truth of the Word of God that we’ve been reading about and grabbing ahold of, here in the 3rd chapter of James - about the POWER OF THE TONGUE - and put it into practice in our lives. We, individually, have the power over our own tongues and, when we begin to realize that and use that power over our tongues to keep the trash about ourselves and others from coming out of our mouths - and, instead, to speak the God-kind of faith and love out of our mouths about ourselves and others - we will begin to experience a GRACEFUL LIFE WITH NO REAL SELF EFFORT INVOLVED.
I believe that when our TRIUNE GOD - FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT - watches us from above and sees that transformation taking place in us, there’s a party going on in Heaven. I can just hear, “She’s getting’ it!” - He’s getting’ it!” coming from the throne room. The Lord so desires us to get the truth of the Word in our hearts. When I began to get it that I don’t have to beg God to heal me because 1 Peter 2:24 says, “By His stripes you were healed,” - therefore it’s a matter of me believing it and receiving it - and taking authority over the enemy which is hindering it - it opened up a whole new way of speaking out of my mouth. And that’s true concerning many, many areas of our lives.
SO -O-O-O-O-O in as simple way to put it as possible - when, we begin to get ahold of the fact that our tongues are having a big influence on our lives - and that we must realize that we can change things - RATHER THAN BEING HUNG BY OUR TONGUE - WE CAN BEGIN TO LIVE A MORE GRACEFUL LIFE THAN EVER BEFORE! SPEAKING POSITIVE, BASED ON THE WORD OF GOD, AND BASED ON HIS LOVE, ABOUT OURSELVES AND OTHERS, IS A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF A GRACEFUL LIFE. It’s not just because it’s not nice to talk bad about others - IT’S BECAUSE OUR WORDS ARE HAVING AN EFFECT ON OUR OWN LIVES AND THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
SO - WE’VE BEEN GROWING OLDER, SINCE WE WERE BORN - LET’S REALLY START DOING IT MORE GRACEFULLLY BY TALKING THE WAY GO WANTS US TO TALK!!!!!! THAT’S A WHOLE NEW WAY OF THINKING FOR A LOT OF CHRISTIANS - BECAUSE THERE’S BEEN SO MUCH SAID ABOUT OUR ACTIONS - BUT NOT MUCH ABOUT OUR WORDS.
I just said this, but I’m saying it again. Since the day we were each born, we’ve been growing older. However, when we get into our 50’s, then 60’s, then 70’s, then 80’s, then 90’s…………, we really are aware of GROWING OLDER. God doesn’t want us moping around, feeling sorry for ourselves, being bored, being grumpy, being lonely, and on and on…… He wants us to live the life of UNDESERVED FAVOR, as His children, while we’re here on this earth. BUT IT DOESN’T HAPPEN JUST AUTOMATICALLY BECAUSE YOU’RE A CHRISTIAN. HE GAVE US A FREE WILL - THEREFORE, WE HAVE TO DESIRE IT AND YIELD THE RIGHT-OF-WAY TO HIM - AND TRUST HIM. AND WE HAVE TO TRUST HIS WORD - AND ALL THOSE PROMISES HE’S MADE TO US. THEN WE’LL LIVE IN THAT “UNDESERVED FAVOR” - OR GRACE!!!!!!
Scripture used for this lesson
2 Corinthians 5:17
1 Peter 2:24