Chapter 3 Verses 1-12:

“The Power of the Tongue”

James places a large emphasis on sins of the tongue.  Both James and Jesus identify the connection between our words and our heart (Luke 6:45), that they say a clean tongue would produce a clean life.  Consider the following list of “sins of the tongue.”  As you study it, ask yourself the following questions: When am I tempted in this way?  With whom am I tempted this way?  What are my habits with this temptation?  To whom have I made myself accountable regarding this temptation?  Why do I not take this more seriously?

  • Uncontrolled speech (James 3:5-8)
  • Lying and deceit (Exodus 20:16)
  • Flattery (I Thessalonians 2:5)
  • Gossip (II Timothy 3:1-3)
  • Slander (Ephesians 4:31)
  • Boasting (James 4:13-17)
  • Cursing (James 3:9-12)
  • Complaining (Philippians 2:14)
  • Course or Vulgar Humor (Ephesians 5:3-4)
  • False Teaching (Galatians 3:1-4)
  • Unfulfilled Promises (Deuteronomy 23:23)
  • Manipulation (Genesis 29:15-30)
  • Harmful Omission (Acts 5:1-11)
  • Blame-Shifting (Genesis 3:12-13)

Chapter 3 Verse 9:

I would encourage teachers to make this point with a loving firmness.

We must take seriously the words we speak in our homes.  Too often we dismiss verse 9 in our homes.  If you are insulting, degrading, or attacking in your speech at home with your spouse or children you need to repent to God and to another believer before you go home today (James 5:16).  Sins of dominance are not broken when they remain private.  The same pride that keeps you silent, if you choose not to confess, will be the same pride that spills venom on your family.  Righteous anger is not insulting, degrading, or attacking.  If you call members of your family names, swear at them, barrage them with accusations, distort their words, or use other tactics of shame/intimidation, you need to confess to another mature believer as accountability to ensure that this life pattern does not continue.

If you struggle with anger, in addition to confessing to a mature believer, I would recommend reading one of the following books:

  • Peacemaking for Families by Ken Sande
  • Uprooting Anger by Robert Jones

If you live with someone who struggles with anger, I would recommend reading:

  • The Emotionally Destructive Relationship by Leslie Vernick

If your children are imitating the anger they see in the home, I would recommend reading:

  • The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo

Chapter 3 Verse 13:

The final phrase of verse 13 is translated several different ways amongst the various Bible translations.  The big idea of the verse appears to be “wisdom uses no more force or intensity than is necessary.”  This seems to capture the idea of wisdom being humble, meek, or gentle (various translations).  Wisdom does not stop short of addressing problems that exist (denial), but it also does not condone unnecessary force or intensity.  When we catch ourselves defending our actions with the phrase, “Well, it worked didn’t it,” or, “They stopped didn’t they,” we should pause.  The implication of this verse is that when we use more force than is necessary we are behaving foolishly.  James is often called “the Proverbs of the New Testament.”  When we use effectiveness as a justification for an over-reaction we should read Proverbs to see how God evaluates our “success.”