The Untamable Tongue

My brethren, (A)let not many of you become teachers, (B)knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For (C)we all stumble in many things. (D)If anyone does not stumble in word, (E)he is a [a]perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. [b]Indeed, (F)we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so (G)the tongue is a little member and (H)boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And (I)the tongue is a fire, a world of [c]iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it (J)defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of [d]nature; and it is set on fire by [e]hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, (K)full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made (L)in the [f]similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a (M)fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? [g]Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

Heavenly Versus Demonic Wisdom

13 (N)Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have (O)bitter envy and [h]self-seeking in your hearts, (P)do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 (Q)This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For (R)where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But (S)the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, (T)without partiality (U)and without hypocrisy. 18 (V)Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Pride Promotes Strife

Where do [i]wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure (W)that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and [j]war. [k]Yet you do not have because you do not ask. (X)You ask and do not receive, (Y)because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. [l]Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that (Z)friendship with the world is enmity with God? (AA)Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, (AB)“The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

(AC)“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

Humility Cures Worldliness

Therefore submit to God. (AD)Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (AE)Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (AF)Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and (AG)purify your hearts, you double-minded. (AH)Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 (AI)Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Do Not Judge a Brother

11 (AJ)Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother (AK)and judges his brother, speaks evil of 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 one [m]Lawgiver, (AL)who is able to save and to destroy. (AM)Who[n] are you to judge [o]another?

Do Not Boast About Tomorrow

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow [p]we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? (AN)It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, (AO)“If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. (AP)All such boasting is evil.

17 Therefore, (AQ)to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.


  1. James 3:2 mature
  2. James 3:3 NU Now if
  3. James 3:6 unrighteousness
  4. James 3:6 existence
  5. James 3:6 Gr. Gehenna
  6. James 3:9 likeness
  7. James 3:12 NU Neither can a salty spring produce fresh water.
  8. James 3:14 selfish ambition
  9. James 4:1 battles
  10. James 4:2 battle
  11. James 4:2 NU, M omit Yet
  12. James 4:4 NU omits Adulterers and
  13. James 4:12 NU adds and Judge
  14. James 4:12 NU, M But who
  15. James 4:12 NU a neighbor
  16. James 4:13 M let us

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