Daily Devotion in James 3
A part of man or woman, big or small, old or young, gets them in the most trouble. As small as it is (James 3:5), this appendage helps send many in the wrong direction (James 3:3,4) and is responsible for many things that its owner regrets. This difficult to manage part of everyone’s anatomy is one’s tongue.
Controlled, one’s tongue can be a blessing to God and man (James 3:9, 10). Uncontrolled, the tongue can:
- Make some desire to govern other’s lives (James 3:1). As Matthew Henry has said, “… do not give yourselves the air of teachers, imposers, and judges, but rather speak with the humility and spirit of learners. Do not censure one another, as if all must be brought to your standard.”
- Offend others (James 3:2).
- Govern one’s whole body into doing wrong things (James 3:3, 4).
- Boast. We are nothing on our merit. If we have achieved anything more than a normal person, it is only because of God’s grace, mercy, and blessing. Boasting elevates our successes due to our merit and disregards God’s help and influence (James 3:5).
- Defile one’s body (James 3:6). A slip of the tongue can destroy one’s testimony, causing others to look at him in a less desirable light. Another slip can utter words that will change the direction of one’s life. Words spewed in anger can wound relationships and cause one to have a lonely life.
- Unleashed evil talk (James 3:8) destroys its owner’s future and the futures of others. The words uttered from an unbridled mouth have killed many in wars and changed nations' courses, not to forget the damage it has done to those that did not control what they said.
We are blessed to have the ability to speak. It can do so much harm, but it was not given to us for that reason. Our speech was given to bring honor and glory to God (James 3:9, 10), encourage others, provide good counsel, give words that will guide others in the way God has revealed from His Word, and hosts of other positive outcomes.
Unbridled, the tongue will not achieve much of its original intent. Controlled, it can do more good than any of our other appendages. Is your tongue under your control or the Holy Spirit’s? Does your lack of controlling what your tongue utters reflect what truly lurks in your heart (James 3:14)?
“Be careful little lips what you say, for the Father up above is looking down with love. Be careful little lips what you say.” — Verse from a child’s song
Words to Understand:
Helm: where the vessel’s steering mechanism is located
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.