James 3

Read James 3.

This chapter in scripture tackles one of the hardest sins to overcome which is the sinful use of words. James himself acknowledged how hard it is to control what we say in verse 2 where he wrote, “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check” and in verse 8 where he wrote, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

This passage exists to explain James’ statement in verse 1, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” That verse told us that teachers will be held to greater accountability by God for how we live our lives. It warns anyone thinking about teaching about the extra layer of accountability God will hold teachers to. Verse 2 gives one of the major ways in which God will evaluate our lives and our teaching. If we teach God’s truth but don’t have a tamed-tongue, we will answer to God for that.

The reason that words are brought up in this context is that what someone says reflects what is in his heart. Jesus said that in Luke 6:45. So if God changes hearts which then changes lives, how a person speaks to other people is one of the clearest evidences of that status of that person’s growth in the Christian life as we see here James 3:2. Verses 3-6 describe how very large things (horses in verse 3, ships in verse 4) can be controlled by something very small. Likewise, the tongue is very small but has power to do great damage (vv. 5-6). Despite humanity’s ability to tame all kinds of animals, no man or woman has the power to tame the tongue (vv. 7-8); only God can do that (v.v 13-18).

We’ve all been hurt by the words of others and each of us has hurt others with things that we’ve said. Let’s not dwell on that today; instead, let’s focus on this thought in verse 18: “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” This verse is connected to the idea of the power of the tongue. When God’s truth makes us wise (vv. 13, 17), we seek to become peacemakers with our words.

Who in your life do you need to speak to in order to make peace, as God wants? Or, are there some conflicts between others in your life that you can use God’s wisdom and good words to help solve? These are good ways to put today’s truth into practice in your life today.