Taming the Tongue

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

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.(H) 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. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.(I) Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire,(J) a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body,(K) sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.(L)

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

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.(N) 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?(O) Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Two Kinds of Wisdom

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it(P) by their good life, by deeds(Q) done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition(R) in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.(S) 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven(T) but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.(U) 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition,(V) there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven(W) is first of all pure; then peace-loving,(X) considerate, submissive, full of mercy(Y) and good fruit, impartial and sincere.(Z) 18 Peacemakers(AA) who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.(AB)

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

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.

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.

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.

Submit Yourselves to God

What causes fights and quarrels(A) among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle(B) within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill.(C) You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive,(D) because you ask with wrong motives,(E) that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous(F) people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world(G) means enmity against God?(H) Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.(I) Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]?(J) But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”[c](K)

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil,(L) and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.(M) Wash your hands,(N) you sinners, and purify your hearts,(O) you double-minded.(P) Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.(Q) 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.(R)

11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another.(S) Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[d] or judges them(T) speaks against the law(U) and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it,(V) but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge,(W) the one who is able to save and destroy.(X) But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?(Y)

Boasting About Tomorrow

13 Now listen,(Z) you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”(AA) 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.(AB) 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will,(AC) we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.(AD) 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.(AE)

Footnotes

  1. James 4:4 An allusion to covenant unfaithfulness; see Hosea 3:1.
  2. James 4:5 Or that the spirit he caused to dwell in us envies intensely; or that the Spirit he caused to dwell in us longs jealously
  3. James 4:6 Prov. 3:34
  4. James 4:11 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a believer, whether man or woman, as part of God’s family.

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Warning to Rich Oppressors

Now listen,(A) you rich people,(B) weep and wail(C) because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.(D) Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.(E) Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers(F) who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries(G) of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.(H) You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves(I) in the day of slaughter.[a](J) You have condemned and murdered(K) the innocent one,(L) who was not opposing you.

Patience in Suffering

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.(M) See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting(N) for the autumn and spring rains.(O) You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming(P) is near.(Q) Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters,(R) or you will be judged. The Judge(S) is standing at the door!(T)

10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets(U) who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed(V) those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance(W) and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.(X) The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.(Y)

12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.(Z)

The Prayer of Faith

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.(AA) Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.(AB) 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders(AC) of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil(AD) in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith(AE) will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins(AF) to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.(AG) The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.(AH)

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are.(AI) He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.(AJ) 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.(AK)

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth(AL) and someone should bring that person back,(AM) 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save(AN) them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.(AO)

Footnotes

  1. James 5:5 Or yourselves as in a day of feasting

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.

Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

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