So raise your hand if you are a teacher. It doesn’t matter what kind of teacher, any kind of a teacher. Then read vs. 1 with your hand raised. Oh, oops. My official title is “teaching elder”. So I read this verse and I think, Oh. Not may of us should become teachers because if you are a teacher you will be judged more severely, more harshly than others because it is your responsibility to teach, to guide and direct, to help people along their way in life. Isn’t it interesting that after this warning we read about how dangerous the tongue is?
The tongue is a fire. It sets a forest ablaze. I’m fortunate that I have not been the victim of tongues of fire, of rumor, of negative words directed at a person which in the end hurts not just them but hurts all around them. But I have seen pastors whose character has been assassinated and brought down simply because they were not willing to tow the line on a certain issue. It is amazing how one little statement can shade a person to think certain things about certain people even if they aren’t even close to being true.
James tells us that it is impossible that we can use our same tongue to bless God and to curse people. I’m writing to those who might use curse words as pretty commonplace vocabulary. One simple question: why? What benefit do we get from using those words? Anyone can line up the negatives, but I really wonder what is the benefit that we get from using words which would scandalize many of us. I don’t get it.
The last part of this chapter speaks about how we can see if wisdom is a part of our life. Listen to the attributes which describe a wise person and you will see that they really do track with someone who is able to tame their tongue. A wise person is: pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. Oh, and by the way, they will reap peace because they will be a sower of peace. I like the concept of being wise.