Nov. 15. Wise and Foolish Use of the Tongue

Jas. 3:1-18

James returned from encouraging works of faith to additional warnings about the use of the tongue. He had stated earlier the importance of bridling it. Even though teaching/preaching are important works of faith, not everyone has the proper preparation or control of his tongue to please God in this capacity. One should not speak what he does not know because he may lead others into destruction with himself.

All Christians sometimes stumble and must take care not to fall. An obvious mark of Christian maturity is how one uses his tongue.

The tongue is a small member, but like small horses’ bits and ships’ rudders, it controls one’s body. It is also described as a fire, a world of iniquity and an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. There are many occasions when a tiny spark has caused widespread destruction as its fire raged through forests and homes. Likewise, false teaching will send untold millions of souls into eternal destruction.

Wild animals can be tamed, but not the tongue. It can only be controlled.

Another widespread misuse of the tongue occurs when Christians praise and worship God, but with that same tongue curse their fellow man. James pointed out that it is not natural for both fresh and bitter water to come from the same well or for trees and vines to bear foreign fruits. Man should employ the tongue for its natural use of praising God.

James continued his thoughts toward teachers by contrasting the wisdom of God and man. Even if man has knowledge, he cannot teach without the proper wisdom. This wisdom comes from God and excludes envy, selfish ambition, boasting and lying. These evil attributes come from the wisdom of man.

One’s life of words and works denotes the source of his wisdom. Christians must demonstrate this wisdom from above to be effective teachers. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”