Chapter 3

Controlling the Tongue: James 3:1-12. 
James highlights human sinfulness again and warns against uncontrolled tongue.  We should not underestimate the power of the tongue.  None of us have reached perfection.  Perfection describes the man who has reached his goal or purpose in life.  One unfounded rumor or gossip can cause the greatest damage to people. God will judge teachers with more strictness because they are prone to stumble in their speech.  Someone has said "Teaching is a dangerous job". James compares tongue to a flame of fire. A spark can start a raging forest fire. Many people think that because they do not murder, commit adultery or steal they are basically good people.  But they often excuse backbiting, gossip and tearing down others, not knowing that they are sins of the tongue. The person who has no control over his tongue usually finds difficulty to have control in other areas as well. Self control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). James cautions teachers that they should examine their motives because they will be judged more strictly. They have greater responsibility because to whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48).  We can tame animals and control ships but have no control over our tongue. Tongue is restless and evil.  A single sentence uttered in anger can sever a long friendship and start a war.  Man is made in the image of God with moral nature and personality. He is a rational, self-conscious and self-determining creature. He was made to obey God and to have fellowship with Him. So blessing and cursing should not come out of the same mouth. Does a fountain give both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree bear olives? That person lacks credibility.  Christians should eagerly seek God's help to speak with grace. Before speaking we must ask " Is it true, is it helpful, is it instructive, is it necessary and is it kind".  Christians must walk the talk. A word fitly spoken is like an apple of gold in a setting of silver (Proverbs 25:11).
True Wisdom comes from God: James 3:13-18.   
James contrasts between earthly and heavenly wisdom here. Biblical wisdom is more than gaining knowledge but a changed life. Wisdom is the God given skill to apply the knowledge to live a life that pleases God and benefits others. It is living an honorable life by doing good works with humility. God alone gives wisdom (Proverbs 2:6). Those who have inclined their hearts and cry out for wisdom will find it (James 1:5).  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Those who fear God will admit that there is a true God and they are not God. It is the reverential trust in God that motivates us to worship and serve God. Those who have trusted God will find wisdom. We should not lean to our own intellect to solve our problems. God should not become our last resource. In all our ways acknowledge that God is in control of our life. Then God will show us the path we should take (Proverbs 3:5, 6). Lack of reverence comes from willful ignorance of God.  Those who have received wisdom will not elevate themselves and overlook their own wrongdoings. Unbelievers don’t understand spiritual things because they lack wisdom (1 Corintians 2:14).  Envy and strife are motivated by the Devil. Christian life should not be motivated by the wisdom of the world because it will pass away. Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there will be confusion, disorder and wickedness. But wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, gentle, submissive, full of mercy, righteous, shows no  favoritism and not hypocritical (James 3:17-18). Those who embrace pride and worldly wisdom  will suffer the consequences of them. Those who are peacemakers will plant the seed of peace and reap the harvest of righteousness. How sad that there is so much bickering and turmoil among Christians!  Seek wisdom from above and and allow it to be your guide in this fallen world.