James 3:1-12 Tame your Tongue

Well, we are back to James this week. We took a few weeks off from our study of this book to address the tragic shooting in Newtown Ct. and then last week we looked at Simeon’s prophesy about Jesus. If you recall before that we looked at the end of James Chapter two where he was telling us that Faith without works is dead, and that faith will be worked out in our lives if in fact it is real. The example that James gave us was that of Abraham believing in God’s promise to him, and his belief was completed, and proven in the fact that he was ready and willing to offer up his only son Isaac. We say that Abraham’s faith was being worked out in his actions, and that if we are truly born again, it will be worked out in our obedience to Christ’s call on our lives, made clear to us through his word.

I hope that brings you up to speed on where we are in James because he is going to take us a step further into his instructions to these twelve tribes in the dispersion as he calls them, and if you recall, we are part of that dispersion as well. We are outside of our homeland, away from our home. Our citizenship is in heaven, yet we are still here on Earth.

It seems also by virtue of the fact that James is led by the Holy Spirit to address this issue that people’s tongues were getting away from them. There must have been something going on that would lead James to address this issue several times in this short letter. There are many things in scripture that need to be understood in the cultural context in which they are spoken. This passage this week, is not one of those. I am sure the things that James says to us in this text translate pretty much one to one with our day and the things that wee see all around us.

So before we get into the text, lets think about something for a second. I want to make a statement and I want you to think about it for a minute and see if it is true in your experience. When children want to inflict pain on one another, they use their fists, feet and teeth. When adults want to inflict harm on one another, they most often use their tongue. Think about that for a second. I know for a fact that there are exceptions to this in this room, but if you think about your life, I would say that the amount of pain you have received at the hand of another person has been more from things that were said, than things that were done. The inverse of that is that you have probably cause more pain to people’s lives by the things you have said, and not things you have done. I am not saying it is always intentional either. There are careless words, slips of the tongue, little secrets divulged, etc. I am not saying that this little rhyme is to blame, but if you believe that sticks and stones may break your bones, but words may never hurt you, you may be more likely to knowingly inflict pain on someone else with the thought, they are just words, how could they hurt.

Well, today, James is going to call us all on the carpet with our words.


Lets read…




Words Carry a great deal of influence:

  • Teachers are judged with greater strictness because they speak so often.
  • We all fail in many ays, but if you are able to control what comes out of your mouth, you are getting somewhere.
  • Horses and ships are directed by relatively small things. Words can seem small, but they can direct the course of our lives. they don’t necessarily determine what is inside, but they reveal what is inside, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.


The tongue has a great capacity for spreading Evil.

  • It is predisposed to evil because we are predisposed to evil. it is our nature. v. 8
  • We are prone to bless God with the same mouth that we curse his image. That is great hypocrisy. v. 9
  • Evil words come from an evil heart. v. 11

Christians speech should not be that way.

  • When Christ takes over, our speech should be transformed.
  • When Jesus Christ (the Word) comes into your heart, you are a new tree, a new stream, and a new pond. No longer speaking evil and hurting with our words, but as Ephesians 4:29 says, building each other up in Love.
  • Remember verse 2, we all stumble in many ways. He is not saying that if you have a struggle with this that you are not saved, but if you are not struggling, and just firing off venomous words, you should wonder.
  • Don’t forget who you are in Christ.



Questions to consider: Ask your spouse or friends to evaluate this.


  1. Are there any hurtful words you have spoken (or written) lately that you need to repent of?
  2. Are there any patterns of speech that God is asking you to walk away from for good?
  3. Do you revel in the fact that Christ has paid the penalty for all of the careless, evil, hurtful words you have spoken, and you are free to speak truth and love and goodness to all those you meet, by the power of Christ?

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