11 Beware all Teachers! Bridle the Tongue

James 3v1-12

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. 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. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (ESV)

Consider the following from the passage:

  1. Beware all Teachers
    Being a teacher comes with great responsibility. James cautions us that they will be judged with greater strictness. See Ephesians 4v12. 
    a) Accountability (v1) – Teachers and parents are accountable to God.
    b) Inability (v2) – We all stumble in many ways even when we mean well.

  2. Bridle the Tongue
    No human being can fully tame the tongue. But with God’s help we can be uplifting and authentic in our speech. See James 1v26, Proverbs 10v19; 15v1; 21v23; 29v20.
    a) Boasts of the tongue (v3-4) – The tongue boasts of great things. See Proverbs 27v2, James 4v16, 1 Cor. v13, Psalm 12.
    b) Burnings of the tongue (v5) – The tongue burns and is full of unrighteousness (malice).
    c) Bedevilling of the tongue (v8) – The tongue is a restless evil (we cannot just be quiet), replete with evil (full of deadly poison).
    d) Blasphemy of the tongue (v9-10) – It blesses God and berates people! How can we curse people who are made in the likeness of God?

  3. Be true (v11-12)
    a) Be aware – Become aware of our tongue’s behaviour and the unrighteousness in our words. We must bless people as we bless God. Be careful what you say and realise your accountability.
    b) Be authentic – We must be congruent with the tenets of our faith. Be the salt and light of the earth as God commands us. Preach the Gospel, speak life and change your community.