The main message of James 3 is one of warning that as children of God we need to be aware that our words impact those around us. Those who teach the scriptures, in particular, have more responsibility and therefore will receive a greater judgement if they don’t teach according to God’s heart & His words (Matt 12:36).
In leading others in their walk with Christ Jesus we need to remember that they are watching our actions and listening to our words which James says can have a lasting impact in the lives of others both positively and negatively.
Our words are powerful. James teaches that we all stumble in what we say and advises us to guard our words and by so doing we can keep our whole body under control. Read some of the illustrations that James uses to show what a powerful force an apparently small ‘thing’ can be:
- a bit in the horse’s mouth can control a very strong animal
- a ship of any size is directed by a small rudder.
- The tongue is like a small flame. It only takes one single spark to destroy an entire forest.
In the same way, James warns of devastating others’ lives with our words. We will probably never know the consequences of our words in someone else’s life, but we should remember it does happen. The tongue is about the only untameable thing amongst creatures of this earth.
We can trust God will fill us with His wisdom (upon confident request) which will, in turn, have its lasting impact on those around us for their good and His glory.