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.

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Taming the Tongue

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters,[a] for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature,[b] and is itself set on fire by hell.[c] For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters,[d] this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters,[e] yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

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Footnotes

  1. James 3:1 Gk brothers
  2. James 3:6 Or wheel of birth
  3. James 3:6 Gk Gehenna
  4. James 3:10 Gk My brothers
  5. James 3:12 Gk my brothers