My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?
12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
Public Domain KJV text from Wordproject.org
James points out that just because there are teachers and leaders who are held in high esteem in a community, this does not mean that they are not held to a higher standard than the average person. Actually, their speech is judged with greater strictness than the speech of others.
The tongue is so small and seemingly so harmless, but it can do a lot of damage if not controlled by Jesus. The tongue can build a person up, or tear him down. A few words can ruin a relationship for life. If we allow the devil to manipulate our words we can alienate individuals, churches and communities. Wars have even been started over a few misplaced words.
If we understand what James has been trying to tell us, then we will use positive speech and behavior, doing so with humility. These actions become a part of our life, for it is Jesus Christ living in us. Our actions shine like the sun because we have the SON living in us.
Characteristics of heaven-bound people include wisdom, purity, gentleness, compassion, and patience. If we possess good attitudes and behaviors, free of partiality and hypocrisy, we will someday see Jesus.
Child and Family Studies