James 3: Taming the Tongue

Why are teachers judged by a higher standard than students?

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James 3:1 When wanting to be teachers, be careful, because they have greater responsibility and are judged by a higher standard.
King James
James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

To avoid offense, what teaching methods are best? Why is self-control important?

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Romans 12:18 Arguing with people builds strife, which you want to avoid. Do your best to live peaceably with everyone.
Colossians 4:6 Be gracious with your stories, flavoring your message with that which will answer the hunger in everyone’s heart.
James 3:2 People who communicate the truth without offense have reached a high level of perfection, having learned self-control.
King James
Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
James 3:2 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.

Why is the human tongue so important to control, yet so difficult?

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James 3:3–8 The tiny bit in horses’ mouths will turn their entire bodies. When a huge ship is driven by fierce winds, the man at the helm turns the little rudder and steers the ship in the right direction. Our tongue is like a match, so small yet able to shout so loudly. When struck, a whisper can light a forest fire. Out of control, the tongue spouts iniquity like fire from the mouth of a volcano, the fire, ash, and lava bringing destruction both to the speaker and the earth. All kinds of beasts and birds, snakes and even fish have been tamed, but no one has tamed someone else’s tongue, an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison.
King James
James 3:3–8 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 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. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 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. 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: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

What are the dangers of allowing ourselves to be angry at others and cursing them?

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Matthew 5:21–22 “Since ancient times, you have heard it said, ‘Do not commit murder,’ and, ‘A murderer must be brought to trial.’ But I tell you, anyone who is angry with his brother will stand trial. For slander, someone may be brought to court, but anyone who calls another person stupid is in danger of Hell’s fire.”
Mark 11:26 “If you do not forgive, your heavenly Father will not forgive your sins.”
James 3:9–10 We bless God our heavenly Father and curse people, who were made in his image. Both blessing and cursing come from the same person’s mouth. My friends, that should never happen.
King James
Matthew 5:21–22 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Mark 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
James 3:9–10 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

What enables us to speak both blessing and cursing?

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Luke 6:28 “Show kindness to those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you.”
Romans 12:14 Do good to those who seek to harm you, and pray God’s blessing for them, that they too might become believers.
Romans 12:19 Fellow believers, don’t seek vengeance when people mistreat you. If needed, God will handle punishment better than you can, for he says in Scripture, Vengeance is mine, and I’ll see justice done. 
James 3:11–12 Can both fresh and bitter water come from the same well? You can’t pick figs from an olive tree or a grape vine. You’ll never get fresh water from a salty spring.
King James
Luke 6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
James 3:11–12 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

Why would anyone not do what is most pleasing to God?

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Matthew 7:12–14 “Do what you would have others do to you, for this is the intent of everything taught in the Law and the prophets. Enter through the small gate. For many take the wide gate and broad road that lead to destruction. Only a few find the small gate and narrow road that lead to life.”
Romans 6:12 Don’t let sinful desires govern your behavior
James 3:13 Do you consider yourself wise, knowing God? Then be fruitful in your relationship with him, humbly saying and doing what is most pleasing to him,
King James
Matthew 7:12–14 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
James 3:13 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.

If we are “fruitful” in our relationship with God, what evidence should exist?

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Luke 3:8–9 “The way you live proves whether you have left your sins and turned to God. Do not say to one another, ‘We are all right because we are Abraham’s descendants.’ That does not mean anything. God can make these stones into children of Abraham. His axe is raised, ready to sever the roots of every tree that does not produce good fruit. You will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
John 15:2 “He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit. He prunes the branches that bear fruit so they will produce more.”
Galatians 5:13 You have been called to freedom from the Law. But my friends, do not use that freedom to satisfy your selfish desires, but show the love of Christ by serving the needs of others.
James 3:13 Do you consider yourself wise, knowing God? Then be fruitful in your relationship with him, humbly saying and doing what is most pleasing to him,
King James
Luke 3:8–9 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
John 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
James 3:13 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.

How can people easily miss the truth?

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Romans 1:24–25 God has given them free will to go their own way so they can enjoy their sinful pleasures, so they can do shameful acts with one another. In this process, they exchange the truth of God for the lies they want to believe, worshiping the creature instead of the Creator, who alone is worthy of eternal adoration. Yes, this is true.
James 3:14 If bitterness or jealousy rises in your hearts, don’t be deceived. A competitive spirit based on greed, self-justification, and boasting will miss the truth.
King James
Romans 1:24–25 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
James 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

In what ways is the world’s wisdom different from God?

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Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise correction and wisdom.
1 Corinthians 3:19 The wisdom of the world is nonsense compared to what God knows. As Eliphaz the Temanite said: God traps the wise with their own cleverness, so their scheming is thwarted.
1 Timothy 6:20 Oh Timothy, guard the gifts entrusted to you. Avoid foolish debates with people who oppose God with their expert knowledge that isn’t so smart.
James 3:15 The world’s wisdom is not from God but is earthly, sensual, and demonic.
James 3:17 God’s wisdom has sincere care for everyone, even your enemies. It is generous and peace-loving, full of kindness and mercy, without pretense or partiality.
King James
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
James 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
James 3:17 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.

What is the potential danger in striving for superiority?

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Luke 14:8–10 “When you arrive at a wedding feast, do not take a seat of honor. A more distinguished person might have been invited. Your host would say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ In shame, you would have to take the lowest seat. Instead, go to the lowest seat first. Then when your host says, ‘Friend, move to this higher place,’ you will be honored before the other dinner guests.”
Romans 12:10 Always be kind to others, making their needs more important than your own.
2 Timothy 2:5 In striving for excellence, we can’t be successful without taking the right steps.
James 3:16 Self-gratification and striving with others for superiority brings chaos and all kinds of wrongdoing.
King James
Luke 14:8–10 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
2 Timothy 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
James 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

What are the most important rewards for “sowing righteousness?

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James 3:18 Peacemakers sow seeds of righteousness that are sure to reap a harvest of what they have planted.
King James
James 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.