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is pretty much only about one thing - the tongue.
This is in keeping with the overall pattern of James
In 1:26-27, 3 topics were announced as marks of a person who “has been born through the word of truth” - Christian, a person who is religious
One of those marks, concern for the needy had been addressed in ch. 2.
Now, he turns to our speech, first by means of warning about those who are “teachers” (v. 1)
Teachers were very important to the early church ()
Teachers were very important to the early church ()

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.

What did these specific teachers teach? - Christian doctrine ()

and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

Teachers are just as important today (young to old)
So, why does James warn: Let not many of you become teachers?
Because: We shall receive stricter (greater) judgement
James is not trying to discourage anyone from being a teacher (if that is a talent you possess)
but, what he does want to get across is that teachers must be careful to “practice what they preach”
and, to lead the people who are listening to truth instead of what is false.
James: An Introduction and Commentary a. The Harmful Effects of the Uncontrolled Tongue (3:1–12)

Jesus warned that ‘to whom much is given, of him will much be required’ (Luke 12:48).

Jesus warned: “to who much is given, much is required” ()
Teachers place themselves in greater danger of judgement because the main tool of their ministry is also the most difficult to control: the tongue.
Yet, the tongue is not just a danger for teachers; it is a problem for everyone in the church.
(v. 2)
James first acknowledges the prevalence of sin: “we all stumble in many things”
not the number of sins, but variety of sins
among them, we admit that sins of speech are prominent
the words spoken without thinking, the untruthful statement, harmful gossip, innuendo, angry words,
James is not the first to single out impure speech as a widespread sin ()
In , when Paul wants to prove that all have sinned, and are in need of God’s grace, he highlights the sins of the tongue
Peter () recognized that Christians desire to have a good life, so he says (quoting the Psalms)
Yet, James’ purpose in these first few verses is not just to warn us to be on guard against our tongues, but to make the positive point that control of our tongue leads to control of the rest ourselves - and our lives. (v. 2b)
His 2 illustrations show this (vv. 3-4):
Compared to the horse, the bit placed in its mouth
bit: small piece of metal rests in the horses mouth attached to the reins.
when the reins are pulled, the bit applies pressure to the horse’s mouth leading and controlling the horse “we turn the whole body”
This small piece of metal can control this large (potentially unruly) beast
Compared to a large ship, the rudder on the ship is small
just as the tongue, a small member of the body, when controlled can lead the rest of the body.
a vertical blade attached to the back of the boat
by moving the rudder left or right, the entire ship is controlled “wherever the pilot desires”
James sees the tongue like this: (v. 5a)
“Even So (in the same way)...”
When a person exercises careful control of the tongue, he is also able to direct his/her own life in it’s proper course (v. 2 “perfect man” - mature)
Yet, the opposite is true as well, if the bit is not controlled, the horse goes wherever it pleases.
if the rudder is not controlled the “fierce winds” that drive the ship could blow the ship off course and lead it to the rocks.
The tongue is a little member and boasts great things
it makes huge claims (can control the rest of the body) - it is true!
We ask ourselves how can we control the powerful forces within us that cause us to sin?
James replies by talking about something we have never considered - do we control our tongues?
Things happen to us (storms of life) yet James describes the tongue as a rudder that holds the ship on course.
our tongue properly controlled can hold our lives on their proper course.
The tongue is much more than what we say out loud
we use speech, language more than just to communicate with other people (small portion)
we cannot think without formulating thoughts into words ()
we cannot plan without describing to ourselves step by step what we intend to do
we cannot imagine without using words to paint a picture in our minds ()
we cannot write without “talking it through” our minds onto paper
we cannot fuel the fires of resentment and anger without words ()
we cannot feel sorry for ourselves without listening to the self-pitying words we address to ourself
If our tongue was so well under control that it refused to formulate these words of self-pity, images of lustfulness, thoughts of anger - then these things would be cut down before they had a chance to live
It is in this way that (v. 2) “if anyone...”
The control of our tongue, speech is more than evidence of spiritual maturity
It the way to it.
Here is what happens with an uncontrolled tongue. (vv. 5b-6)
Many of our larger members don’t exert so much control over us. - but the tongue does.
1:26 v. 3:8 - can you tame the tongue?
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