(Originally published January 6, 1921)
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1
Years ago, I was asked to speak at a women’s conference at our church. I was so afraid to say yes to it at first. I prayed about it and asked the Lord to show me if this was something that He wanted me to do. I wasn’t sure I could get over my fear of actually opening my mouth in front of a large group of people and actually having sound come out of it. The next Sunday our pastor stood in front of our church and told a story of little children asking him if he ever was afraid to stand in front of the church. My ears perked up. He went on to say that yes he was afraid but it was not for the reasons they thought, it was because he was afraid of not handling the word of truth rightly or being taken wrong and of not living out what he was preaching. I realized in that moment that my fears had been misplaced. I didn’t need to be afraid of looking silly or if my knees were going to knock together or if I would trip going up and down the stairs, that if I was going to speak at a conference I needed to be afraid of not handling the word of truth correctly and then of not living it out. I am not saying I never get afraid of those other things too. But I do realize that if I write, or if I speak or if I lead a Bible Study then yes, my life will be judged more strictly than if not. I fear what your opinion of my Jesus would be more than if I were to look silly to you. I pray that I can live up to my writing of who He is.
James also expresses that we all will stumble and if anyone can control themselves so as to never stumble that he would be a perfect man. Then he gives a lot of language to the tongue. The tongue is a small member of the body, yet it is the hardest member of the body to control. He compares it to the fact that we can put a bit in the mouth of the horse and we can guide the horses whole body by that bit. The rudder of a ship is small yet it guides and turns the whole ship. Much the same the tongue is small, yet with it we can build things up, we can edify others and praise our God. But we can also tear things down.
“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongues is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:5-6
I have let my mouth get me in trouble more times than I can count. I have destroyed relationships and I have seen other peoples relationships destroyed by things said. I am still trying to learn how to control my mouth. James calls it a “restless evil, full of deadly poison”. I pray that I can get my tongue under control before I take my last breath and I pray that I will be forgiven for the things I allow my tongue to say before my brain can catch up and stop it.
“With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not be so.” James 3:9-10
I beg forgiveness of anyone I have said something that was stupid or came out as cursing another person. I want to praise and bless God with my tongue and I pray that I will be able to tame my tongue.
James goes on to discuss wisdom from above.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” James 3:13
There is a difference in what the world calls wisdom and the wisdom from above. We can see the big difference in these days. I don’t want any part of the earthly wisdom that is around these days for sure. We are surrounded by thoughts and practices that are different from what
Is in God’s word.
“This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” James 3:15-16
I think we can say that we are surrounded by disorder and vile practices. But we should seek the wisdom from above.
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 17-18
I pray that we will seek the wisdom from above and that we will allow that wisdom to help us to tame our tongues so that we may bless people and God!