James Study: Week 5

Good morning and welcome to week 5! Think of a time where someone said something nasty about you or to you. You can probably remember straight away, right? Words have so much power. This passage of scripture is so important, especially in the times we live. Gossip, rumours and talking about people is sadly a huge part of the world we live in. Let's get into it...

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James 3:1-12

Controlling the Tongue

Dear brothers and sisters,[a] not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.[b]

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.[c]

 

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James is counter-cultural and warns us about our tongue and the power that it has. Words have so much power - they can bring life or death. They can encourage and uplift or tear down and destroy. 

I love the example James uses with the rudder being a tiny part of the ship, yet it steers the whole ship. Our tongues are a tiny part of our body, yet it really does control over everything we are and do. He also compares the tongue to a tiny spark, which can set a whole forest on fire. It's true, our words have the power to really hurt people. 

Yes, this goes for directly speaking hurtful words to people but it also goes for gossip. Verses 9 and 10 say: "Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!" James is making a point that as Christians, we shouldn't be praising God and gossiping about others (who are made in the image of God). It is hypocritical to bless God and curse someone who God created. 

We need to work on being disciplined and being intentional with our words. I have a friend, who might be reading this (you know who you are) and I tell her all the time that I love how intentional she is with her words. She doesn't talk over people, she is always listening and she chooses her words carefully. You can tell she thinks before she speaks and because she is a woman of fewer words, her words hold great weight. I really admire this friend and she inspires me to be a better listener and be more intentional with my words. 

In a world where social media is full of hurt people, gossip, slander, rumours, talking about others, we as Christians need to go against that culture. We need to be the light and not conform to the patterns of this world. Romans 12:2 (NLT) says "Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

July 05, 2022 — Beth Parkes

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