Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a discussion and suddenly realized that what you are saying is not very spiritual? I’m sure that many of us have. It is very easy for us to express our thoughts and feelings without first taking the time to make sure that what we are saying is of God. Yet James warns us to make sure that our wisdom is from God and not something that is – ‘earthly, unspiritual, demonic.’ (see James 3:13-18)
With this thought in mind, we begin a new area of study this week. James chapter 3 addresses the topic of the tongue. A key verse in this chapter is – “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” (James 3:2) The greatest achievement any Christian will ever accomplish is to learn how to control their words.
James begins our study with a special warning for those who are in the positions of teaching:
James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
Some have read this verse and determined that they will never accept a position of teaching within the church. Yet the church needs good teachers. Young converts cannot become mature disciples unless someone invests the time that is necessary to teach them ab0ut the things of Christ. (see Matthew 28:19-20) Therefore, we can conclude that James is not telling us that we should ever teach. Instead he is warning us to make sure that what we say is from God and that we ourselves are practicing it.
James reinforces this warning with a reminder that those who teach will be held to a higher standard. “…for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary says: [A teacher’s condemnation is greater because, having professed to have a clear knowledge of duty, he is all the more bound to obey it.] In other words, we must make sure that we are practicing what we preach.
Though it is often easy to express our thoughts and opinion, the Bible tells us that we should weigh our words carefully in order to make sure that they are from the Lord. Jesus said –
“I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)