James 3

The Christian who is not affected by the sins of the tongue but takes care to avoid them, has an undoubted sign of true grace. The wisdom and grace of God which enables one to control the tongue, will enable him also to control all other actions.

1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

3 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

James 3:1-12 – ​Bridle the Tongue

   It is much easier to teach people what they should be and do than to obey our own precepts. Even the best of us stumble in many respects; but our most frequent failures are in speech. If we could control our tongues, we should be masters of the whole inner economy of our natures. The refusal to express a thought will kill the thought. Let Christ bridle your mouth, and He will be able to turn about your whole body. Let Him have His hand on the tiller of your tongue, and He will guide your life as He desires.
   A single spark may burn down a city. The upsetting of an oil lamp in a stable led to the burning of Chicago. Lighted at the flames of hell, the tongue can pass their, vitriol on to earth. Man cannot tame the tongue, but Christ can. He goes straight for the heart, for, as He said long ago, the seat of the mischief is there (Mark 7:14-15; Psalm 51:10). —Through the Bible Day by Day

James 3:2—If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man.

   Think of the sins of speech! How innumerable they are! When we see them in the light of this chapter, we can understand the holy Isaiah saying (Isaiah 6:5), “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King.”
   The sins of speech about ourselves.—The tongue boasteth great things. We are all apt to be vain, boastful, exaggerated. We tell stories that redound to our own credit; contrive to focus attention on our own words and deeds; and even in delivering God’s messages manage to let it be seen that we have a clearer insight into truth or a closer familiarity with God than our fellows.
   The sins of speech about others.—“We break the law of courtesy, and become harsh, insolent, and uncivil; or the law of purity, and repeat stories that leave a stain; or the law of truth, and practice insincerity, equivocation, and dissimulation; or the law of kindness, and are harsh and implacable to those who are beneath us in station. Or in our desire to stand well with others we are guilty of flattery, servility, time-serving, and the like.”
   The sins of speech in connection with God’s work.—We disparage other workers; compliment them to their faces on addresses they have delivered, and disparage them behind their backs; pass criticisms which take away the effect which their words had otherwise exercised over others; contrive to indicate one defect in which was otherwise a perfect achievement. Alas for us! How greatly we need to offer the prayer of the psalmist: Set a watch, O God, upon our lips! —Our Daily Homily

James 3:13-18 – ​Seek Wisdom from Above

   The true wisdom is not the child of the intellect, but of the heart. It consists not only in what we know, but in what we are. It is in this sense that it is used in the earlier chapters of the book of Proverbs and in Job 28. Some who profess to be wise are jealous and factious, despising others and confident in their superiority. This spirit and temper are from beneath.
   Notice this exquisite string of qualities—like a thread of pearls—that characterize true wisdom: First, pure; then peaceable—this is God’s order, never peace at any price. First the holy heart, then the quiet and gentle one. Mercy and good works follow, “free from favoritism and insincerity”; and as the peace-loving soul goeth through the world, dropping the seeds of peace, those seeds produce harvests of righteousness. Those that in peace sow peace, shall reap a harvest of righteousness, the fruit of peace. Such a springtime! Such an autumn! —Through the Bible Day by Day

James 3:15 – ​The ladder that leads down to hell has 3 steps; on the 1st, there is written “earthly”; on the 2nd, “sensual”; and down there, just at hell’s door comes the 3rd, and on it is written “devilish.” (Aitken)