James 3

James 3:1-12
Tongue problem

Introduction: Let us look at a few things about the tongue before we get into the verses.

As we consider James, we find that he continually expands on what Jesus said as recorded in Matthew.

This chapter deals with the most dangerous part of our bodies, the tongue, or words. James deals with the problem of speech or sinning with our words, a problem that is common with all men.

James has dealt with the outward works of faith as seen in godly action. He now moves to outward works of faith as seen in godly speech.

In the Jewish society as in ours, speech was a moral question. In more or less orderly societies, men are more likely to use their tongues for hatred, hostility and personal gain rather than openly hostile actions. In less orderly societies, harsh and ugly words can mean death.

Women have reputation for having a loose tongue, and Scripture warns against women busy-bodies, but men have the same problem.

The tongue and warfare

In a more orderly society, words are as much of a means of aggression and war, as are bombs and guns. Rather than guns,

* Words are seen as weapons of warfare.
* Words are a means of changing godly society to one more suited to the wicked.
* Words are seen as a means to accomplish one's personal goals.

Therefore, the only standard of truth in words for the wicked is what will accomplish the evil desires.

The ungodly have no regard for the truth, for the Word of God is truth. But James points out that our words are to be godly words, spoken in terms of godly truth, God's Word.


First, we have words as weapons to accomplish a fallen social agenda

We are in a war today to the death, and the major weapon in this war is not guns, but words.

There are many examples of the use of words to advance the goals of the ungodly.

Zimerman – disinformation flowed like a river in order to stir up racial strife, and to provide a good income for those in the business of stirring up racial strife. The first piece of disinformation was the edited 911 tape. It is evident that there are those who want a racial war in the US, and it seems that the federal government is preparing for such a war.

History – disinformation is common in the rewriting of history. Rewritten history is especially bad in the education business. Thus, the ungodly curriculums used in the education system is a lie, for it does not reflect the only source of truth, the Word of God. Our children are being taught lies for 12 or 13 years. Maybe they cannot read or write, but they can quote and live the lies they have been and are being taught.

It is difficult to find honest history, which is why Sprinkle has found a market for his reprints.

Speaking of rewritten history, a headline on National Review Online (July 29, 2013) is, "Get Ready for the All-Hail-Hillary Movies". NBC is releasing a four-hour miniseries about Hillary Clinton sometime before the 2016 election. It will not include any of Hillary's checkered past, particularly the 51 years before the Lewinsky scandal. It will be a rewriting of Hillary's history in order to prepare the American people for her run for the Democrat nomination for President. The spread of disinformation will be astounding, and people will believe it because it will be a "documentary".

DC – disinformation flows constantly from DC. In fact, the Pentagon said last week that they needed to be more open because Drudge and the alternative media were scooping them, and telling the people the truth.

Sodomites – disinformation flows from the sodomites and their supporters in order to advance their evil agenda. The same with the abortion industry.

Global warming – disinformation is all that keeps the government support flowing. The books are continually being cooked to advance the cause of "green energy", an extremely costly endeavor which cannot meet the green dreams. Many large political donors have huge amounts of money invested in green energy, which can only be recovered by government subsidies.

Disinformation must flow from every possible source about an oil shortage which is a non-shortage and about Global Warming, which is a non-issue. Without disinformation, the government would be forced to stop financing the wind-mills and other expensive boondoggles. It is through disinformation that keeps people in agreement with the goals of evil men.

Media – disinformation flows non-stop, particularly from NPR.

Guns are not necessary to reshape society, for words have replaced guns. Because people are not motivated to examine the facts, disinformation is very effective in advancing the evil goals of our day.

Religious leaders – disinformation also flows from the pulpits for various reasons. Not a few churches used their bus attendance to inflate their church attendance in order to obtain bank loans to build nice edifices to themselves. The numbers did not work out to maintain their loans, and the churches lost their buildings, the banks lost their money, and the name of Christ suffered.

All of that to say this: In the Jewish society of James' day, as in ours, speech was a moral question. In so called civilized societies, men are more prone to use their tongues for hatred, hostility and personal gain rather than hostile actions. Words is far more useful and common than are guns in robing one's neighbour.

Second, words are to be used to edify; that is, build up, promote another's growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness. The positive use of words is not James' emphasis here, but we will mention two verses:

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

The proper use of words in to edify, and sometimes that edification involves rebuke and the truth in love.

The word of God has much more negative advise about words than positive. The reason being that we have such a problem with the negative use of words, so God paints a very dark picture of the misuse of words.

Words are to be a blessing to others, but sin has corrupted every area of life and thought.

James thus wrote to the Christian synagogue of his day in an orderly context, and his instructions are true for all ages, especially in the church.

The tongue and leaders

Now let us get down to the meat of James' epistle.

V. 1, James opens with a serious warning, "My brethren, be not many masters," or as we said in the Second Commandment, be not many teachers, i.e., rabbis or pastors. Even the Pharisees who were tempting the Lord called Him master, which simply meant teacher.

As I considered this first verse, I saw that it is far more serious than we see by just quickly reading over it.

V. 1 is a clear complaint that too many of the Jewish Christians were desiring to be teachers in the Christian Synagogue. They were attempting to teach what they did not fully understand. They were desiring the exalted position of teacher, pastor or elder not understanding the implications of the office.

James is warning against being too eager to enter into a teaching position, as well as against the general assumption of the privilege of teaching. He reminds them of the teacher's greater responsibility before God. He tells then that the dangers of the office of religious instructors which they were seeking far outweigh any human privilege that might be associated with the office.

The Geneva points out that when the unqualified usurp the office of teacher, they provoke God's anger against themselves.

Teachers are called upon to use honest words, as well as to judge the faith of other and to reprove them others for their sin. Teachers take upon themselves a dangerous responsibility, for as the pastor judges others, he will be judged.

In v. 13, James issues a call for wise and knowledgeable teachers who have the outward proof of their calling, which includes not only godly words and works, but meekness.

In 1 Cor 12, 14 and Eph 4, Paul says that the office of teacher is an honorable position among Christians, but not all can be religious leaders as teachers or preachers.

The Paul defines the qualifications of the teacher in 1 Timothy 5:22, which requires wisdom and knowledge of the "Old Testament Scriptures". He lays out a more complete list of personal qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

Scripture does not limit teaching to a particular class of people, but it certainly warns against any assumption that the office is open to anyone who desires to fill that office. Scripture clearly establishes the qualifications and responsibilities of the office of pastor, or elder.

Teachers are necessary in the Christian Community, and both James and Paul warn of the danger of unqualified men desiring and filling that office. James warns his readers that the responsibilities and accountability of the religious teachers far outweighed any worldly honor of the position. James says that the greatest liability of the office is the increased condemnation for sin by the Lord.

From what we gather about James, it is evident that many were desiring to be teachers in the early assemblies. Many people today desire to enter into the area of a religious leader with little or no thought of the requirements and what it involves before God.

V. 1, we see then that the following is addressed primarily to those desiring to be teachers, yet it applies to all men, both saved and unsaved.

There are multitudes who are standing before an assembly of God's people who Scripturally unqualified.

* They are attempting to show the way of salvation that they know nothing about.
* They have sinned in forcing their way into the office because they were never qualified nor called.
* They usurped the position as "master" according to the laws of the church or state, but they cannot usurp the office of "master" according to the law of God. Rather, they are provoking God's anger against themselves.
* They stand before people claiming to proclaim the word of God, yet they know not the Word. Many even dismiss "Old Testament" as the basic source for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2 Tim 3:16. Their rejection of the Old Testament alone disqualifies them, and provokes God.

It seems that a major qualification for a "master" today is a charismatic personality.

James is following his statement in concerning faith without works is dead, (2:20). Now he is telling us that works are not limited to actions. Words are also works. In fact, much of the work of the world is accomplished through words. This is especially true of the "masters", the teachers. And teachers are called upon by God to pass righteous judgment, both moral and intellectual.

They are called upon to use the tongue properly to teach serious doctrine, to reprove and correct the sinner, and to instruct in the way of righteousness.

Some weeks ago, we dealt with not many masters in the second commandment. That is, different types of offerings that represented four different levels of responsibilities.

When we consider the various callings of men, whether husbands, employers, or teachers, we tend to see only the advantages of those positions, and not their responsibilities and accountably to the Lord and to man.

V. 2, all of us, both the saved and unsaved, offend others. Those who do not offend by words are mature, and have accomplished the most important lessons of life—that is, to control the tongue. We all offend others "in many things." However, the man who does not offend by his speech is a mature man because he has gained control of his tongue.

James presents speech as a measure of one's character. In James 2:17, we see that speech is one of the key works that indicates what we are. It reveals what we think, both about ourselves and about others. Because speech is often a form of back-stabbing, it is very deadly. Our Lord repeatedly speaks of the evil of the unbridled tongue:

Matthew 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. 34. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

A common thing we hear is "Judge not that ye be not judged". But here we see that Christ told us we can know what is in one's heart by what we hear come out of the mouth. We say with computers, "Garbage in, garbage out". We can say the same about people: "Garbage in the heart, garbage out of the mouth".

Vv. 2-12

Considering v.1 and the warning to those desiring to be "masters", this next section is directed to those with the desire to be teachers. But as does all Scripture, it clearly applies to everyone.

The tongue and destruction

Vv. 3-5, James compares the tongue,

First, to the bit in a horse's mouth whereby the horse, larger and more powerful than a man, is controlled. A powerful horse is controlled by man for good. He is controlled in a direction given by the rider or driver. Similarly, the tongue is a controlling force for good or for evil. It provides leadership and direction. The tongue was created as a force for good. To use it for evil is to abuse a power that was given to its owner.

Second, to a large ship that is directed in the face of the fiercest winds by a very small helm, controlled by a helmsman. In a storm, the life of those aboard a ship depends especially on the helmsman. His command of the helm brings life or death to all on board.

Third, to a small fire that can create a gigantic blaze and destroy much property. A small spark can burn down a house, a city or destroy a forest.

We have two application:

First, James tells those who desire to be teachers that the office of teacher or pastor has been given great authority by the Word of God, even the care of the souls of those under them. And with that great authority, they have great responsibility before God. Why would anyone desire such responsibility without the proper unique graces, gifts and calling of God?

Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Second, James' warnings were for the early Jewish Christians. Then as now, congregations were and are torn apart by petty talk and grievances.

V. 1 implies that there were undercurrents against the Elders or pastors. I have been in churches where the laymen felt they could do better, and spoke against the pastors.

Phillipians 4:2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

Paul plead with two women "that they be of the same mind in the Lord." An essentially good church was disrupted by the conflict between two people. Churches have split over the most foolish and ungodly things imaginable. Personal opinions, personal likes and dislikes have prevailed, and destroyed the peace and unity of Christ's congregation. This is a particularly evil problem when certain people in the congregation publically proclaim their conflict with the pastor.

When we went to Linden, we were saddened to learn of the destruction of that church. When we went back for a funeral a few years ago, it was prospering, running about 60 in attendance. What happened?

Two men had joined the church just before Carol died. They then moved from the other end of the county so they could be closer to the church. Both of the men professed to be godly men, both claimed to be reformed. In fact, the church where they were attending was fearful of their Calvinistic and reformed leanings, so the pastor asked them both to leave.

After I got to know them, I found that one of the two worshiped money. He told me many times that he would not tithe until he had made a million dollars. Then he would prove to the Lord that he could serve the Lord as a millionaire. His life was and is built around money.

When the church was running about 60, the pastor was not being paid. The man who worshiped money found two other men to join with him, though both knew better. He then persuaded the other two to stand against any pay for the pastor because the pastor had a secular job, and was self supporting. Though they had $80,000 in the bank, they refused to pay the pastor.

Another problem was between old and new. The church had the old group of people and the new group. The old group considered the church theirs, and considered the new people outsiders, much like the people here in Bean Settlement consider the area theirs, and all others outsiders.

The money issue and the old vs new issue caused great contention, and the people refused to be of the same mind in the Lord. The end result was that the church had to close its doors. Since then, one of the three men died, and the other man repented of his sin, but the key man is still serving his god as he tried to convince me how much he loves the Lord.

But there is a silver lining. There are some very good and godly plans in the works for the buildings, which are all paid for.

How many good churches have been disturbed and even destroyed by personal conflicts? Too often people allow their petty likes and dislikes to prevail over the peace and unity of Christ's congregation. The major fault at Linden was that the old crowd and the man who worships money refused to be of the same mind in the Lord.

James begins by speaking to leaders and want-to-be leaders in the church. He then broadens his instructions to speak to everyone, because the tongue is a common problem with everyone.

The tongue is either the last thing to be converted, or else the first thing that reveals a person's conversion. Regardless of which is the case, it is a serious matter.

Our son-in-law regularly travels into the Sudan. In that country there are common diseases which are ignored here in America. Though we may accept those diseases as common, they are deadly in the Sudan. We have come to accept irresponsibility in speech as easily as the natives accept and live with those deadly diseases in the Sudan.

My wife and I are in the book of Psalms now. Note Psalms 15:

1 ¶ « A Psalm of David. » LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? 2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. 3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. 4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. 5 He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

Out of the ten actions listed, 4 have to do with the tongue.

Irresponsible speech. How many people do we know who speak, and then accept no responsibility for what they have said. They consider speech as no more than air, carrying no responsibility with the words. I could get seriously into Ps 15:4, but I will not at this time.

James began with the leaders and prospective leaders. Today we too often hear of the rash and irresponsible comments of pastors and of prominent religious leaders. James reminds us that the tongue is the most potentially destructive force in all of life, in church, home, workplace, and society. Words are like a small fire that can cause massive destruction:

Matthew 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

The wild fires that have burned great amount of land in the west may have been set by an accidental spark, or intentionally set. Though we do not mean to, we can set off a great fire with accidental words, but far too many times, words are intentional to set off a large fire.

But let me close this section with this:

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Edify = build up, promote another's growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness.

The proper use of words in to edify, and sometimes that edification involves rebuke and the truth in love.

The word of God seems to have much more negative advise about words than positive. That is because of the problem we have with words, so God paints a very dark picture of the misuse of words.

Words are to be a blessing to others, but sin has corrupted every area of life and thought.

James' Revelation

Vv. 6-12

Leviticus 19:16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD. (Proverbs 11:13, 18:8, 26:20-22)

Here we have a law against "talebearers," i.e., gossips (one who talks too much, Webster).

There is no human-imposed penalty, so punishment is left up to the Lord: I am the Lord. However, if the "talebearer" creates turmoil in the assembly, church discipline must take place for the safety of the church.

Proverbs 22:10 "Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease."
1 Timothy 5:13 "And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not."

Paul's words remind me of Facebook, where one no longer needs to go from house to house. Rather, they are idle, and having too much time on their hands, and they post the most insignificant things for the world to see. "I gave my child a bath today".

Both James and Paul use the Mosaic law in Leviticus to deal with the problem of the tongue.

James expands his warnings about the tongue far beyond simply forbidding gossip.

The character and nature of a person is not only revealed in their works and apparel, but in their speech. When we speak, we reveal ourselves. Speech is a very important fact. Though animals can communicate certain things, they cannot speak. Speech is an attribute limited to man, and to angelic and demonic beings. The supreme Speaker is God, and His words revealed His character.

Speech is a unique privilege in creation, and one that must not be used lightly. We are known by what we say as well as by what we do.

Two of the Ten Commandments govern speech:

Deuteronomy 5:11 "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain" V. 20 "Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbor"

Obviously, speech is very important to God; it is a communicable attribute which He shares uniquely with man. Man was made to fellowship with his Creator, and that fellowship is through words.

3:6, the tongue reveals the man. Because man is fallen, the tongue "is a fire, a world of iniquity." In fallen man, the tongue reveals the depravity of his being. In fact, James says, the tongue "is set on fire of hell," so that it defiles the body and the whole course of nature

Again, James is reminding us of Christ's teaching:

Matthew 12:16 "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD." (Leviticus 19:16)

And again,

Matthew 15:18 "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man."

V. 7, James continues: "For every kind of beasts... is tamed..." In James' day, Rome was known for its circuses where amazing feats of animal taming were displayed. James and those to whom he writes were aware of those amazing feats with animals.

V. 8, he compares the amazing feats taming the tongue, and says that no man has been able to tame the fallen man's tongue. It is "an unruly evil, full of deadly poison". Being evil, man's tongue is evil. Like a rattlesnake, man's tongue is full of venom and is ready to strike at any provocation, and at anyone close enough to hit.

"But the tongue can no man tame..." However, the Spirit of God can and does tame the tongue.

Psalms 39:1 "I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me." Guard our words, particularly the words we might use against the evil men around us.

Psalms 40:3 "And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD."

Psalms 49:3 "My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding."

Psalms 141:3 "Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips."

How many times has our tongue struck its poison when we certainly did not mean it to do such an evil thing?

My dad used to say, "Jr, it is better to keep quiet and let people think you are a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt." That certainly as been a hard lesson to learn, but is far too true.

The Lord twice asked Satan, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?". Job 1:8 & 2:3.

But as Satan did his best to destroy Job, Job's tongue did not slip. Twice Job's uprightness of heart was revealed as the Spirit says of him, "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." Job 1:22, 2:10.

We must say, however, that Job's consistency was a result of the Spirit of God working in him because of his total confidence in his Redeemer. Why curse God when he knew that his Redeemer lived, and he would one day see his Redeemer? God used Job to teach us self-control and patience.

When the Spirit tames our spirit, the tongue is tamed. An uncontrolled spirit results in an uncontrolled tongue. But we must still live with the old man, so neither our spirit nor our tongue will be perfectly controlled until we get our new body.

Vv. 9-10, James tells us how speech is abused. We bless God, and we curse men made in God's image. The same mouth both blesses and curses, which is very wrong. We play the judge with our words, as we usurp a rite that belongs to God alone. In Scripture, to curse is to condemn religiously; it is not normally an individual's right to curse because we are not God.

Vv. 11-12, James uses some illustrations from the natural world, as he again refers to Christ's teachings:

Matthew 7:15 ¶ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Christ commands us to render righteous judgment upon others by the fruit of their lips.

Hebrews 13:15 "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

Only a good tree can bear good fruit. So when the outward words of a speaker do not line up with God's words, the corrupt heart is revealed. Words normally reveal truth.

Christ calls us to render righteous judgment upon others by their words. But James calls on the believer to render righteous judgment upon himself by his words. Our words reveal our heart to ourselves and to others.

V. 11, James says that a fountain cannot at the same time send forth both good and bitter water.
We live in an orderly creation where there is a consistency in all things. James tells us that a tongue that lets loose both good and evil must be hypocritical as it pretends to be good. The heart reveals itself when it expresses evil, despite its profession of godliness.

We get our water from Washington Spring, where the water always runs pure.

V. 12, as a fig tree cannot bear olives, nor a vine figs. "So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh".

Again, we see James application of what his half-brother preached in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:16-20. They both use the illustration of good and bad trees.

James is giving more than a warning against gossip. James is not calling upon us to judge righteous judgement of others by their speech. Rather, he is calling upon us to judge ourselves according to our speech. What do others see in our heart?

The Chalcedeon Report ran a series of articles showing that a written revelation from a deity is unique with the Biblical Faith, and started with Moses. Before Moses there were no written revelations of any deity, and God spoke through dreams or personal appearances rather than through writing. Paganism dismissed speech as a revelation of their gods. Rather than having a written revelation for guidance, paganism looked to dice, bones and strange natural events for hints from the spirt world, or from the pagan gods.

If pagan prophets spoke, it was in strange and meaningless ways that would cover their tracks if they spoke wrongly.

Daniel 2:6 "But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof. 7 They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it. 8 The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me."

The pagan prophets could not tell the dream, for they had no word from their gods. So they asked for time, hoping to blame their lack of knowledge on the stars. "The stars have changed since the dream, so we are unable to give the understanding."

But God spoke in words to his man. God speaks in words; He speaks in written revelation. God's written word has motivated the pagans to also have a written revelations, which are simply figments of fallen man's vain imaginations. The more recent written pagan "revelations" are the Koran, the Book of Mormon and the Jehovah Witness book which they call the King James Bible.

In the Bible, the prophets speak, and they give to man a plain, clearly understood word from God.

Deuteronomy 27:8 "And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly."
Habakkuk 2:2 "And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it."

God's word is a plain word which is clearly understood. The prophet Nathan said to King David, "Thou art the man" (2 Sam. 12:7). Because God is totally self-conscious, perfect in all His Being and without any darkness in His "mind" or nature, His speech is clear and definitive. Failure to understand God's word is due to fallen man's blindness and deafness. Failure to understand is not due to the confusion of His word.

Whenever Christianity is faithful and strong, it creates a culture which stresses honest and clear words, both written and spoken. A Christian society honors and purifies speech. But in an apostate culture, words are a tool of warfare, and lies are commonly used to obtain ungodly goals. Words are not used for true communication and for uniting people together. Both spoken and written words are used for propaganda and to deceive, not to enlighten. Perjury becomes a common practice, and evil men tell us that a lie is often more useful than the truth.

What James is telling us involves more than disapproval of gossip or bad language. He is telling his readers that language reveals one's nature to both God and to man. Speech betrays the inner man. The tongue cannot be tamed unless the person is tamed by the Spirt if God and made a new creation by Christ. The tongue reveals what we are, and to whom we belong.

The last section is 3:13-18 where James deals with Wisdom

In v. 1, James began this section by speaking of masters or teachers in the Christian synagogue. James' warning is identical to the warning in Hebrews 5:4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

Now in v. 13, he again speaks to the leaders, but, like the rest of his letter, his words are for all believers.

V. 13, "Who is enlightened among you, and a man of knowledge? Let him exhibit the fruits of it by a noble life, with the humility that true enlightenment brings."

This section follows James' warning to those who desire to be teachers about the danger of men's words spoken in the Christian synagogue. He has presented the darkest picture possible of the misuse of words not only for the teachers, but for all his readers. Teachers must talk; they must use their tongue properly for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2 Tim 3:16.

And they will be held especially accountable for the proper use of their tongue. Professing to be qualified to instruct others, they have no excuse for ignorance in words or deeds.

V. 13, James continues his attacked upon sham religion, as he does throughout this letter.

First, he exposes how useless it is to eagerly hear the word, and not do it.

Second, he exposes the inconsistency of profession love for one's neighbour, yet showing partiality because of riches or social standing.

Third, he exposes the uselessness of being orthodox without the good deeds, and the danger of trying to make words a substitute for works. Words of faith without works of the Christian faith are worthless.

As someone said, "Deeds, deeds, deeds," is the cry of St. James; "these ought ye to have done, and not to have left the other undone." Without Christian practice, all the other good things which they possessed or professed were savor-less salt.

V. 13, he returns to instructing teachers and those who desire to be teachers.

With meekness. Meekness describes a strong man's self-discipline and a wise man's humility. Those who are strong and wise know it, and are not jealous of rivals, nor fearful of their position. Nor are they proud of their wisdom and works.

We have mentioned several times that in a fallen, nonChristian world words degenerate, or depreciate in meaning. Christ said, "learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you will find rest for your souls." (Matt. 11:29.) Moses was the meekest of all men. Meekness in our modern culture has lost its glorious meaning. Meekness has degenerated to mousiness.

Scripture defines meekness as controlled or harnessed strength. One of the problems of the new translations is that words are "degenerated", to where they lose their meanings and intents.

The wise man is to add knowledge to his wisdom, and will show what he is not only by his words, but by his works. The "meekness of wisdom" means that they are aware of their strength in God. They know that in the Lord their victory is certain. They do not face the hostilities, oppositions, and frustrations of this world alone nor in isolation and weakness. Among other things, wisdom knows that God is always with us, and that we will prevail through Him.

V. 14, the unwise man, leader or member, will be a frustrated man, with "bitter envying and strife" in his heart.

"Slips of the tongue" are usually slips of the heart as those slips reveal the truth. Angry words reveal an angry heart. Bitter words reveal a bitter heart. Though we will deny the fact, anger and bitterness of the heart is anger and bitterness against God for the situation in which he has us.

James presents two kinds of wisdom:

First, there is the wisdom that comes from God. The Bible's "wisdom literature" indicates how practical Godly wisdom is, whereas humanistic wisdom is abstract and unrelated to living.

Proverbs 8:36 illustrates Godly wisdom: But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

Second, man's wisdom, worldly wisdom, or humanistic wisdom can be any number of things, that is, scientific, economic, political, and so on. But man's wisdom is separate from morality because it is separated from God. The world values its wisdom because it is separated from God and the morality of God's word, and believes it is not accountable to a higher power.

V. 15, the world's wisdom of which they are so proud is not from above, but is from below. It is earthly, sensual, demoniacal.

V. 16, the world's wisdom results in envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
The world's wisdom is evil in all its forms, and is self-defeating. The man who truly believes in the triune God knows that he is called to victory, and he will work with patience and confidence.

V. 17, contrary to humanistic wisdom, Godly wisdom "is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy".

V. 18, the consequence of false wisdom is destruction and death, Proverbs 8:36, But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

But Godly wisdom leads to life, and the benefits of a certain triumphant and victory over the world, flesh and the devil. James has made it clear that our words and works will clearly reveal which wisdom we are pursuing. The meek, not mousy, are blessed, and are God's nobility:

1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Our calling is to victory despite all the world, flesh and devil can do. We must move forward in grace and confidence in our Lord.

V. 18, "And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace". The peace in assurance of victory marks the wise man.

Psalms 84:5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. 6 Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.

Psalm 84:5-7 speaks of those persons who go through the valley of Baca, a desert place, and make it a well, an area with pools of refreshing water, because they create their own climate by their faith. Our faith shapes us far more than we realize.

Let me share this example I encountered:

An intelligent and talented woman who was totally without a Christian faith saw only a growing disaster in American life, in every area of activity and thinking. Though a talented musician, she ceased playing either her piano or her organ because she thought one should not be joyful in a dying culture. She died miserably and alone, too painful to be near.

At the same time, another woman of confident faith drew people to herself because her serenity was so contagious. Except for a few, people were unaware of the horrors and griefs she had experienced.

The first woman because of her lack of Christian faith went through life with "Woe is me", and died miserably and alone.

The second woman because of her active Christian faith went through the horrors and griefs of her life creating pools of refreshing water. She drew people to herself.

Which woman are we like? Woe is me, and alone, or rejoicing in the Lord daily because of our assurance in him, and refreshing those around us?

We create our climate with our words, and it surrounds us daily.

Not only do we communicate with others around us with language, but we communicate with ourselves with language and attitude. Our self-communication will bless or poison ourselves. Communicating to ourselves the word of God will bring blessings, while communicating to ourselves with "woe is me" will poison ourselves, make us bitter, and will poison all those around us. Do we produce sweet water or bitter salt water?

2 Corinthians 10:1 ¶ Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: 2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

James 3:13-17 is summed up very well by the wise man: Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:

When our hearts are "woe is me", as was the first woman, we poison ourselves and those around us. When we meditate on our troubles and problems, we will be incapacitated, and useless to ourselves and to others.

Language, and thinking in a language, is a privilege unique with men. With our words, to ourselves and to others, we either bring blessings or curses. With our words we can chose to poison ourselves, or encourage ourselves. Our words manifest whether we are meditating on the wisdom from beneath or on wisdom from above.