July 21, 2021
Scripture: The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. …but no human being can tame the tongue. James 3:6b, 8a
Observation: In this chapter, James focuses on how our words have the power to destroy or build up. Citing our tongues as the means, James provides a poignant metaphor of a blazing fire to illustrate the havoc it can wreak. His argument is certainly convincing, but he doesn’t seem to offer a solution other than to bridle our tongues—which he says no human can do. So where does that leave us, our we merely to despair? James’ stream of thought then transitions to showing “works in the meekness of wisdom” (verse 13). He goes on to contrast earthly wisdom (that seeks self-gain) with godly wisdom that is other-centered: “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (verse 17).
Application: Godly wisdom restrains us from speaking out of turn when we are hurt by or jealous of others. And it is this godly wisdom that trains us to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (1:19b). Still, willpower is not enough. We need inside and outside help. We need the counsel of the Holy Spirit and the body of believers to hold us accountable when we get it wrong and to encourage us when we get it right.
Prayer: Father God, grant us godly wisdom that is gentle, full of mercy, impartial, and sincere, that we might speak constructive words that bless others. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling