Start Your 14-Day Free Trial of BibleStudyTools PLUS!

III. The Untamed Tongue and the Way of James Wisdom (3:1-18)

3:1-2 In the absence of good works, there’s often an abundance of worthless words. So James addresses the necessity of controlling our tongues. This is practical, down-to-earth Christianity. He begins with teachers in the church: not many should become teachers. Why? Teachers influence the thinking of others and have the power to lead them astray. Therefore, teachers will receive a stricter judgment (3:1). Heaven notices what you say. We all stumble in many ways; none of us is perfect. But the one who controls his tongue is mature (3:2). The tongue is a crucial—and often deadly—part of the body. It’s like a master switch. Take command of it, and you have the potential for bringing your spiritual life under control.

3:13 When it comes to negotiating the twists and turns of this highway called life, wisdom gives us the ability to press the brake, flip the turn signal, turn the steering wheel, engage the accelerator, and navigate through heavy traffic. Wisdom is the application of heavenly knowledge to earthly living.

James asks his readers, Who among you is wise and has understanding? Notice what he does not answer. He doesn’t say that it’s the one who has read widely, attained advanced degrees, and can wax eloquently about any subject. Rather, the wise person shows that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. In other words, wise deeds are the proof of a wise life.

Few believers need a change in their circumstances half as much as they need wisdom to manage their circumstances. For instance, a Christian man doesn’t need a new spouse; he needs God’s wisdom to love and live with the spouse he has.

3:14-15 The hearts of some people are characterized by bitter envy and selfish ambition (3:14). Such attitudes may enable them to go places in life, but this kind of “wisdom” does not come down from above. It’s demonic and comes straight from hell (3:15). Remember, mere human wisdom is an expression of Satan’s agenda. To convey heavenly wisdom, you must communicate with heaven.

3:17-18 Human wisdom is rooted in selfish ambition, and its fruit is bitter envy. Contrast that with the root and fruit of heavenly wisdom. True wisdom comes from above; the Lord is its source. What does it look like? It’s pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense (3:17). Whereas human wisdom tears others down, godly wisdom builds others up. It’s authentic and leads to peace rather than strife. Do you want to bear the fruit of righteousness? Then you must sow and cultivate peace (3:18).

California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information  California - CCPA Notice