6: Taming the Tongue (Jas 3:1-12)
In the first chapter of the epistle, we learned that practicing
God’s word involves controlling our tongues (1:19, 26). After an extensive
discussion on faith and works, James now returns to the subject of the tongue
and applies the principle of faith and works to this area of daily life. He
warns us of the unruly nature of the tongue and teaches us why we as believers
must control our speech.
“Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren,
these things ought not to be so” (3:10).
Did You Know…?
1. Teacher (3:1): “The
privilege of anyone speaking—thus “teaching”—in the meetings of the early
groups of Jewish Christians was a carry over from the Jewish synagogue
services, where even strangers were allowed to speak. Recall from the gospels
how Jesus took advantage of this opportunity (Matt. 12:9 ff.; Mark 1:39; Luke
6:6 ff.). The book of Acts also reveals that the apostles used this synagogue
privilege to preach the gospel (e.g., Acts 13:15 ff.).” 1/81
When James says, “Let not many
of you become teachers,” does he have in mind those who have the divine gift to
teach in the church? (cf. 1Tim 1:6-7).
What motive is James warning us
against by this command?
What should be the correct
motivation for teachers?
Why would teachers receive a
How does that fact that we all
stumble in many things relate to the command in verse 1?
Why is a person who does not
stumble in word able to also bridle the whole body?
Think of common mistakes we
make with our tongue.
What illustrations does James
use to describe the tongue?
What do these illustrations
teach us about the tongue?
How does the tongue “defile the
What does it mean that the
tongue “sets on fire the course of nature”?
What is the source of the
tongue’s destructive power?
Based on your own experience,
what damages can the tongue do?
Why is man able to tame beasts,
birds, reptiles, and sea creatures, but unable to tame the tongue (8)?
What are some examples of
speech that carries “deadly poison”?
According to James, why is it
wrong for a believer of God to curse others?
How does it help us in our
daily lives to remind ourselves that everyone is created in God’s image?
What lesson does James want us
to learn from nature?
Should we just keep quiet all
the time in order to avoid stumbling in our speech? Knowing the source of the
tongue’s destructive power, how can we let our tongues bring a positive
Think of examples in the Bible
where the tongue is put to good use.
What guidelines do you use to
help you decide what speech is appropriate for you as a Christian?