Turn on the TV or the radio or the internet, and chances are, you’ll hear someone talking. And it’s even likely that you’ll hear someone criticizing other people. It’s easy for us to get swept into that. But God still loves those people, doesn’t He? How can we praise God one minute and in the next minute tear down people God loves? This should not be.
James, writing to many believers, must have been concerned about churches in general. Apparently, there were people speaking badly—boasting about themselves, cursing others, picking fights. James tells them all to shape up.
Who is being “called out” by James in verse 1? Why do you think teachers will be judged with greater strictness? Francis said, “We live in a day and age when everyone wants to be the one who gives advice, everyone wants to be the expert, and James is going to argue, are you sure you want to do that? Because God is going to judge you more harshly for being a teacher.”
Show, don’t tell. James followed this rule of writing to fantastic effect: ships guided by small rudders, horses guided by small bits, forests set ablaze by tiny fires. He paints these pictures to drive home his point that the tongue—such a small thing—has the potential to cause great damage.
The tongue is a powerful force for all of us, and it affects the way we influence others. Whether you lead a church or a small group or a family, what you say will have a huge impact.
Think about a time harsh words hurt you. Now consider the influence your words can have on your children, your neighbors, your students, your friends. You have great power in your hands—no, not in your hands, but in your mouth. Power to do good or to do harm. How could you help or harm people by what you say this week?
It’s impossible to tame the tongue. No human can do it, but God can. Ask the Lord to give you a tongue that seeks to bless Him and bless others. May the words of our mouths be acceptable to Him.
When you find yourself speaking badly about someone, stop—in mid-sentence if you need to. Then say a prayer for that person.