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Taming The Tongue


Few of us can truthfully deny that the Number 1 cause of trouble in our lives has been our mouths. We’ve spoken hasty words that have eventually got us  into hot water, or perhaps we’ve delighted in whispering juicy secrets behind someone’s back that amounted to no more than hurtful gossip.

James is adamant that the tongue is a troublemaker that must be tamed lest it cause great damage. 

As we consider the main theme of Chapter 3 (“Taming the Tongue”) we might squirm a little as we recognise ourselves amongst the colourful examples offered by James as he underlines the power of the tongue and our dependence on God in bringing it under control.

This week’s passage (3:1-12) challenges us to consider how our words can be loving or hurtful with all shades between. Modern psychology acknowledges the lasting harm caused by verbal and emotional abuse, especially during childhood.

James maintains that proper speech is not only speaking the right words at the right time, but it is also controlling our desire to say what we should not – or need not.

An old carpenter’s saying goes: “Measure twice, cut once”.

We might apply this practical folk wisdom to our everyday conversations: “Think twice, speak once”.

Then we might buy some time to ask ourselves: Why do I need to say this? Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

We might just surprise ourselves by saying nothing at all, then inwardly giving thanks to God for saving us once again.

[BULLETIN Lismore Anglican Parish 9.30am, 6.30pm Sun 11/9/11]

Taming the Tongue: A Blessing or a Curse?   James 3:1-12 


1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.   [NIV]


C The teacher’s peril [3:1]



C It’s a universal problem [3:2]



C Small but powerful and dangerous [3:3-8]



C Blessing and cursing [3:9-12]

Rev. Alan Shaw Associate Priest

Rev. Alan Shaw Associate Priest

Taming the Tongue: A Blessing or a Curse?

James 3: 1-12