This Bible study accompanies the September Devotional for the Encourager’s Devotional Series. If you would like to receive the Leader’s Guide for the Encourager’s Devotional Series, email me at email@example.com.
James 1:26 says, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his ________________, he deceives himself and his religion is _______________________.”
Read James 3:1-12 – In this passage, why is the tongue compared to a horse’s bit, a ship’s rudder, and a small spark?
Verse 6 says, “The tongue also is a ____________, a world of ____________ among the parts of the body. It corrupts the ________________ _____________ …” It goes further in verse 8 to say that “no man can __________________ the tongue.”
All of this makes it almost seem like there is no hope when it comes to controlling our speech. Yet, it must be possible, because we are commanded to do it. The point is that we cannot do this in our own strength, and also that we will never control what comes out of our mouths if we do not control what’s in our hearts.
Read James 1:1-27. Notice that speech sins are discussed in the context of the “trials of many kinds” (v. 2) which test our faith and develop our perseverance. Why do we have more trouble taming our tongues when we are in the middle of trials? Can you think of times when you’ve seen stress bring about speech sins?
According to verses 13-15, the temptation to sin in any area comes from our “own ___________ __________________.” What evil desires might be in play when we have trouble controlling our mouths during trials or stress?
Besides the big section in chapter three on the tongue, note what other verses in James have to say with regard to speech:
1:19 – be “__________________ to speak”
1:26 – “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is _____________________________.”
2:1-9 – We should be careful not to show favoritism and not to “_____________ the poor” (v. 6).
2:12-13 – Speak and act in ways that show ____________________ rather than judgement.
2:15-17 – Speaking good wishes or prayers to someone without taking action to help them is called faith that is _____________________.
4:1-2 warns against __________________s and ______________________s.
4:11 – “Brothers, do not ___________________________ one another.”
5:9 – “Don’t __________________________ against each other.”
James does list some things which can help us overcome these temptations:
1:5 – We can pray for ______________________.
1:21 – We can make sure the word is __________________________ in us.
5:16 – We can __________________ our sins to ____________ ________________ and ______________ for each other.
Pray and ask God to help you see if any of the thoughts from the devotion and/or Bible study apply to you. Pray that he will convict you if you are …
- being insensitive to the effects of gossip on others (1 Cor 12:26).
- associating too much with those who gossip (1 Cor 15:33; Prov 18:8; 26:22).
- “lightly receiving accusations” against others (1 Tim 5:19;6:3-5,11,20).
- in any way being unloving (1 Cor 13).
- letting stress or trials cause you to commit speech sins (James 1:2).
Scripture tells us that the mouth speaks “out of the overflow of the heart” (Mt 12:34;15:1-20). If you do have a problem in this area, pray that God will reveal to you what’s in your heart that is causing the problem. Make note of any thoughts or convictions.
Read the passages from the devotion which speak about covering someone’s faults (Prov 10:12,17:9; 1 Cor 12:22-26;13:5; 1 Pet 4:8). Ask yourself if there is anyone you may need to apply these passages to, praying that God will help you see any you may not recognize on your own. If anyone did come to mind, write down anything you can that is positive about that person (see Phil 4:1-8).
You might want to memorize Psalm 141:3.
“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
You could choose to make any convictions you had in the meditation section a matter of prayer for the next month. Write down any convictions you’ve had while reading the devotion and/or the Bible study.
Review the following suggestions for encouragement projects to see if there are any you might want to consider:
Is there someone who could use a dose of mercy from you? Someone you could try to see anew through eyes that “cover” their faults? If so, put the matter to prayer and then try to think of a way to encourage them.
Looking ahead: October is Minister Appreciation Month and some have asked how they might encourage their ministers. Here are some suggestions:
- One of our churches used to provide us with meals throughout the month. Sometimes food was brought to us, sometimes they took us out or had us over, and sometimes they gave gift certificates to restaurants. We loved it!
- The same church also did a “stock the parsonage pantry” now and then and that was a great blessing.
- How about having a “Handy-man at your service” emphasis and ask what repairs or home-improvement projects you might do?
- Ask the minister’s spouse if there’s any “secret dream” or wish you could fulfill for the minister and/or the family. A vacation or get-away? A new study book or set of commentaries? A microphone headset? Sign up for a course of study? You might be surprised what a minister really wishes he/she could have that hasn’t been worked into the budget. One church bought my husband a leaf blower because someone heard him teasing that he was envious of the neighbors. It was a thoughtful gesture that made us laugh, too.
- Card showers are encouraging (I’ve kept ours and still look them over now and then). Ministers are often the target of the speech sins mentioned in this month’s devotional (grumbling, gossip, etc.). It is always good for them to hear about the things people appreciate about them.
- Send them on a weekend retreat.
- And finally, really knock their socks off and volunteer now to direct next year’s VBS, or Easter drama, or …
What do you specifically want to do in response to this month’s devotion?