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)

Submit Yourselves to God

What causes fights and quarrels(AC) among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle(AD) within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill.(AE) 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,(AF) because you ask with wrong motives,(AG) that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

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

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

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil,(AN) and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.(AO) Wash your hands,(AP) you sinners, and purify your hearts,(AQ) you double-minded.(AR) Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.(AS) 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.(AT)

11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another.(AU) Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[d] or judges them(AV) speaks against the law(AW) and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it,(AX) but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge,(AY) the one who is able to save and destroy.(AZ) But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?(BA)

Boasting About Tomorrow

13 Now listen,(BB) you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”(BC) 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.(BD) 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will,(BE) we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.(BF) 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.(BG)

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.