My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.
Taming the tongue
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 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. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 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? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
In the passage today James moves on from contemplating actions, to more thinking about words. It is not only doing the wrong things which is an issue, but saying the wrong things. When we don’t control our tongues it can be incredibly damaging, both to others and ourselves.
Dear Lord and Saviour, we are sorry for the times when our words have brought about pain and nastiness and difficulty. We’re sorry when we have spoken things which weren’t true. We are sorry when we have spoken in anger. We are sorry when we have spoken, when we should have kept still. Help us to learn to control our tongues, and to honour you with our words as well as our actions. Amen.
Offer to God your own:
Prayers for other people
Bless one another as you finish – for example ‘I bless you now, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirt.