Thursday, January 3, 2019

James 3

Today's reading...
James 3:1–18 (NLT)
1Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.
2Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
3We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth.
4And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.
5In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.
6And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
7People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish,
8but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.
9Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.
10And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!
11Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?
12Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
13If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.
14But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.
15For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.
16For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
17But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

18And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

The believers James wrote to were having problems with their tongues (1:26; 2:12; 4:1, 11–12). Of course, the tongue is not the problem; it is the heart (v. 14; Matt. 12:35–37). But before you say anything, ask yourself some questions.

Who is in control (1–4)? If your tongue is under God’s control, you will take what you say seriously (v. 1), and your whole body will be under His discipline (v. 2). Just as a horse needs a rider holding the reins, and a ship needs a pilot at the rudder, so your tongue needs a master; and God is the only one who can do the job. Psalm 141:1–4 is a good prayer if you need help in this area.

What will the consequences be (5–12)? Are you starting a fire that may get out of control and do a lot of damage? Are you turning loose a dangerous beast or poisoning a refreshing spring? Once your words are spoken, you cannot take them back, so look ahead.

What are my motives (13–18)? Is there bitterness in your heart or envy? Are you speaking from God’s wisdom or the wisdom of the world? Are you a peacemaker or a troublemaker? If your heart is right before God (Heb. 4:12), He will use your words to produce the right kind of fruit.
--With the Word

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