Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment. For in many things we all stumble. If anyone doesn’t stumble in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also.
Indeed, we put bits into the horses’ mouths so that they may obey us, and we guide their whole body. Behold, the ships also, though they are so big and are driven by fierce winds, are yet guided by a very small rudder, wherever the pilot desires. So the tongue is also a little member, and boasts great things. See how a small fire can spread to a large forest! And the tongue is a fire. The world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire by Gehenna.
For every kind of animal, bird, creeping thing, and thing in the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by mankind. But nobody can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the image of God. Out of the same mouth comes forth blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send out from the same opening fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, yield olives, or a vine figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh water.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that James addresses the tongue by beginning with the admonishment: “Let not many of you be teachers.” Teaching scares me to death. I’d much rather refer to myself as an observer sharing insight… but I’m afraid God will make that final determination. For the record, my tongue does get me into trouble way too much and I repent of this. Just as Jesus said, “A good tree can’t bear bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t bear good fruit,” James zeroes in on the tongue. Can fresh water and bitter water come out of the same spring? Can a fig tree bear olives, or a vine figs? No. And a tongue wholly devoted to God can’t bless one moment and curse the other.
- “Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a heavier judgment.” Does that apply to what we refer to as Jesus’ Great Commission?
- Is it possible to live a life where we never stumble in our words?
- Can we bridle our tongues?
- How can a tongue start a fire?
- How can we fire-proof our tongues?
- James said that nobody can tame the tongue. If that’s the case, what daily discipline can we practice to keep our mouths out of trouble?
I am a sufferer of “foot-in-mouth” disease and I come from a long line of family that suffered the same condition. We are constantly saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I’d like to repent of that to God and confess that sin to you today. I’m sorry. I’m going to do my best to practice Jesus’ simple discipline of letting my “Yes” be “Yes” and my “No” a “No” and try to leave it at that. Also, I want to fill my heart and my head with the word of God and I pray that I will use these words of God in their proper context, at the proper time and may it bless others.
Father, forgive me. I’m guilty of letting my tongue get the best of me. But my hope is in you and in Jesus Christ and I know that through you I can do all things. Help me to tame the tongue, Lord. Help me to bring my tongue, my mind, and the rest of me into subjection and surrender to you. May you use all of me to bless others at all times. Amen.