Taming the Tongue

(A)Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For (B)we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, (C)he is a perfect man, (D)able also to bridle his whole body. If we put (E)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 (F)it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And (G)the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, (H)staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life,[a] and set on fire by hell.[b] 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, (I)full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people (J)who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,[c] these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

Wisdom from Above

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? (K)By his good conduct let him show his works (L)in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter (M)jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not (N)the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, (O)demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But (P)the wisdom from above is first pure, then (Q)peaceable, gentle, open to reason, (R)full of mercy and good fruits, (S)impartial and (T)sincere. 18 And (U)a harvest of righteousness (V)is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Warning Against Worldliness

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions[d] are (W)at war within you?[e] You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask (X)wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (Y)You adulterous people![f] Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? (Z)Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit (AA)that he has made to dwell in us”? But (AB)he gives more grace. Therefore it says, (AC)“God opposes the proud but (AD)gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. (AE)Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (AF)Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (AG)Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and (AH)purify your hearts, (AI)you double-minded. (AJ)Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 (AK)Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

11 (AL)Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.[g] The one who speaks against a brother or (AM)judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only (AN)one lawgiver and (AO)judge, he who is able to save and (AP)to destroy. But (AQ)who are you to judge your neighbor?

Boasting About Tomorrow

13 Come now, you who say, (AR)“Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For (AS)you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, (AT)“If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. (AU)All such boasting is evil. 17 (AV)So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.


  1. James 3:6 Or wheel of birth
  2. James 3:6 Greek Gehenna
  3. James 3:10 Or brothers and sisters; also verse 12
  4. James 4:1 Greek pleasures; also verse 3
  5. James 4:1 Greek in your members
  6. James 4:4 Or You adulteresses!
  7. James 4:11 Or brothers and sisters

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