Down with Put Downs – Gentle Speech
In his letter, James contrasts “God’s kind of wisdom” with that which is “motivated by the Devil.”
Satan-speak, he declares, is full of bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, earthly concerns and desires, unspiritual thoughts and ideas, disorder, and evil.
God-speak, on the other hand, is characterized by purity, peace, consideration for others, submission, mercy, sincerity, impartiality, and goodness.
Interact with God’s Word
- Do verses 9 and 10 describe your own mixed record of positive and negative speech patterns?
- Which kind of speech reflects your true identity?
- Which kind of speech serves as a sobering reminder of your basic sinful nature?
- Is it really possible to “take back” words spoken carelessly or in anger?
- What is the ultimate source (v. 6) of the poisonous words we utter?
- Does James’s verdict, in verse 8, mean that it is hopeless to attempt to control your tongue? What does his exclamation in verse 10 imply?
- What resource can we draw on in our battle to assert control of our tongues?
Spend Time in Prayer: Ask God to change you from the inside out, by His Spirit increasing your power to monitor and control what you say.
2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. 3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.
5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.
10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.