My brothers and sisters, most of you shouldn't want to be teachers. You know that those of us who teach will be held more accountable.
All of us get tripped up in many ways. Suppose someone is never wrong in what he says. Then he is a perfect man. He is able to keep his whole body under control.
We put a bit in the mouth of a horse to make it obey us. We can control the whole animal with it.
And how about ships? They are very big. They are driven along by strong winds. But they are steered by a very small rudder. It makes them go where the captain wants to go.
In the same way, the tongue is a small part of the body. But it brags a lot. Think about how a small spark can set a big forest on fire.
The tongue also is a fire. The tongue is the most evil part of the body. It pollutes the whole person. It sets a person's whole way of life on fire. And the tongue is set on fire by hell.
People have controlled all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea. They still control them.
But no one can control the tongue. It is an evil thing that never rests. It is full of deadly poison.
With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. With our tongues we call down curses on people. We do it even though they have been created to be like God.
Praise and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, it shouldn't be that way.
Can fresh water and salt water flow out of the same spring?
My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives? Can a grapevine bear figs? Of course not. And a saltwater spring can't produce fresh water either.
Are any of you wise and understanding? You should show it by living a good life. Wise people aren't proud when they do good works.
But suppose your hearts are jealous and bitter. Suppose you are concerned only about getting ahead. Don't brag about it. Don't say no to the truth.
Wisdom like that doesn't come down from heaven. It belongs to the earth. It doesn't come from the Holy Spirit. It comes from the devil.
Are you jealous? Are you concerned only about getting ahead? Then your life will be a mess. You will be doing all kinds of evil things.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is pure. That's the most important thing about it. And that's not all. It also loves peace. It thinks about others. It obeys. It is full of mercy and good fruit. It is fair. It doesn't pretend to be what it is not.
Those who make peace should plant peace like a seed. If they do, it will produce a crop of right living.