Monday, July 9, 2007

Taming the Tongue

James 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

  • What does it mean to "presume" to be a teacher?
  • When should you teach?
  • Parents are commanded to teach (see Deuteronomy 4:7). What attitude should you have toward the things you teach your children?
2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
  • Why does this passage put so much emphasis on what we say? What impact do your words have on others?
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.
  • James gives two examples of small things that have big importance. How have your words impacted others in a positive or negative way?
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 person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
  • These verses describe the tongue as potentially destructive. What are some examples of damage that has been done by the tongue?
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
  • If no man can tame the tongue, what hope is there for us to control our tongue? Has God helped you control your tongue? How?
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
  • Why is it wrong to praise God and curse men? What should we be saying about other people?
11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
  • James uses two examples (springs and trees) that can be counted on to produce the same thing all the time. What do you need to do to become a reliable source of words that are true, helpful, and God-honoring?


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