16/9/12 Proper 19 Trinity 15 16/9/12

James 3.1  Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2  We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. 3  When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4  Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5   Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7  All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12  My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Mark 8:27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?" 28 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." 29 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ. " 30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. 31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." 34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

Introductory Talk

Get bubbles and encourage children to blow them. After a few minutes ask them to go and get the bubbles and put in back into the container.

Our words are like that. Once we speak them, We cannot get them back. Sometimes we speak good words that are helpful and this is fantastic. Sometimes we say things that are not true, or kind or helpful. If we have done this we need to say sorry to the person we have wronged, say sorry to God, and try to make sure that we don't do this again.

Japanese proverb "A statement once let loose cannot be caught by four horses."

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A small boy was going home after his friends birthday party. He said to his friends mother, ‘Thank you for having me. This is the nicest party I’ve ever been to.’ Touched by the young boy’s sincerity, the mother said, ‘Well, thank you my dear. How kind of you to say so.’ ‘ Oh, but I always say that!’

Only a baby is admired for opening his mouth and putting his foot into it.

I imagine we have all been in situations where we wished we had not said something. In today's gospel reading we have Peter being inspired by God to say that Jesus is the Christ. Shortly afterwards, Peter is inspired by the devil when he tries to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross. Jesus then says that if anyone wants to follow him then this will involve denying themselves, and dying to their old way of life. He said that his followers should not be ashamed of his words. We should also try not to be ashamed of our words.

James compares the tongue to the destructive power of a fire. He likens its influence to a small rudder guiding a large ship.

There is a cost to being a true follower of Jesus and this means that we should forget following our selfish desires and that we do not copy what other people do.

Novelist George Meredith (1828-1909) called gossip "social sewage".

Albert Benjamin Simpson (1843-1919) a Canadian preacher & author; "I would rather play with the forked lightning, or take in my hands living wires with their fiery current, than speak a reckless word against any servant of Christ, or idly repeat the slanderous darts which thousands of Christians are hurling on others, to the hurt of their own souls and bodies. "

This quote is 100 years old, yet this still goes on. I hear it. I hear about it. If I do, then how much more does God hear? And, what do others outside the church think about Christians if they behave in this way?

Two weeks ago I said, "I have heard people compared to a toothpaste tube. When you squeeze us you find out what is inside us. Jesus is saying that our words and deeds show if we have a trust in God that is transforming us." 2.9.12 Mk 7.1-23

Our words show whether or not our faith is real, and we will be judged in the light of how our faith affects our lives.

But how can we control the tongue ? James 4.6 tells us; "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

We are to be humble and submit to God. If we have sinned we are to turn back to him. He will then give us the grace that we need to follow his ways.

Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Before we say anything we should remember this verse and ask three questions?

Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind and helpful ?

This week, following the Hillsborough Enquiry, we have heard with horror how people have been hurt and slandered by words. Some people lied. Some people passed on lies, without knowing this, but with little thought about how it may hurt people. Many politicians haven't been very interested in pursuing the truth, which is why it has taken 23 years to emerge. Only last October David Cameron referred to Hillsborough using a 19th century saying normally attributed to Charles Darwin: "It's like a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat that isn't there." He was saying that the family and friends of the Hillsborough victims may never "achieve closure".


Some people may say, "Well as I was only telling the truth or giving my opinion". Well, the truth can sometimes be very subjective, and someone's opinion can be wrong, or it can be right but very hurtful.

If we feel that someone has done wrong to us there is a Christian way of dealing with this. It is not to tell anyone but the one who we feel has wronged us

Jesus said, 15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Matt 18:15-17 (NIV)

We have on obligation to fellow Christians who we feel have done wrong. This is to help them, not talk about them. 1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:1-2 (NIV)

We think of Jesus words, "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31 (NIV) We should, therefore, ask ourselves, "How would I feel if someone was saying what I am saying about me?"

We should not only ensure that we do not gossip or speak in a way that is unhelpful. We should also challenge anything that might be construed as gossip. Perhaps we need to ask the person speaking "Are you sure?" "How do you know this?" "Might there be another, less harmful interpretation?" Perhaps we may prefer to say "If you don't mind I would rather we don't talk about this." Or even, "How would you feel if someone talked about you in this way?"

We need to be positive and remember that our words can help people, building them up. We are British and not very good at complimenting or praising others or thinking about how we can encourage them. But the Bible says,

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Heb 10:24-25 (NIV)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thess 5:11 (NIV)

Joni Eareckson Tada. "Words. Do you fully understand their power? Can any of us really grasp the mighty force behind the things we say? Do we stop and think before we speak, considering the potency of the phrases we utter?"

As God's people we should be true to His word and true to ours. Let us build people up with our words.

Let us encourage people. Thank people who do things for us personally, in our church, in our community. Congratulate them when they succeed. Commiserate with them when things don't go right ( Romans 12.15 ). We are part of God's family. We are part of Jesus' body here in earth. We are travellers, together on a journey of faith. Let us help and build one another up. Let us love one another.

Suggested hymns

9 All Hail the Power of Jesus name

851 I will offer up my life

457 O worship the Lord

32 At the name of Jesus