James 3:9 With it (our tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
Perhaps no other part of creation practices hypocrisy the way we often do with our tongue. A fountain doesn’t produce both fresh and salt water at the same time. A fig tree doesn’t bear olives and a grapevine doesn’t produce figs. Therefore, someone who truly loves the Father should not be tearing down their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Though the word ‘hypocrite’ is not in this passage, verbal hypocrisy is exactly what James is condemning. “My brothers, these things ought not to be so” James tells us. Christians should not be pretending to praise God one moment while slandering their fellow believers the next. It is not only unspiritual, it is also very hypocritical.
During the days of the Bible, the word ‘hypocrite’ often referred to someone who was an actor in a play. Through the use of masks and costumes, an actor is able to pretend to be someone they’re not. Jesus used the word ‘hypocrite’ quite often in His condemnation of the religious leaders.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” (Matthew 23:25-26)
One of the reasons the Pharisees were such hypocrites is because even though they pretended to be righteous on the outside, they were still sinful on the inside. As someone has said – ‘The heart of the problem is often the problem of the heart.’ Consider what James says –
James 3:14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
James tells us that the reason we sometimes find ourselves praising God one moment and condemning our fellow believers the next is because the wisdom in our heart is not from God, but rather it is earthly, unspiritual and demonic.
In contrast to this demonic wisdom, James speaks of wisdom that is from God. “…wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17