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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

James 3

Verses 1-18

Let's turn to James chapter three. James first of all warns against a desire to teach the Word of God that would stem or emanate just from your own desire to be in front of people or whatever.

My brethren, [he said,] be not many masters [or teachers] ( James 3:1 ),

The idea of master there is a teacher,

knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation ( James 3:1 ).

Teaching the Word of God is an awesome responsibility, because when I stand here to teach God's Word, than I am responsible to be teaching the Word of God correctly. For if I do not teach the Word of God correctly, then those people that I may be leading astray, will be people for whom I will have to bear a responsibility. It is a heavy obligation to be a teacher of God's Word.

Now, you can teach any other subject, doesn't matter if you are teaching something that will latter on be proved to be wrong, but if you are teaching the Word of God the consequences of the false teaching are so vast that as the teacher you will be held responsible. So don't be many masters knowing that we will receive the greater condemnation. That is why I seek to be so careful in teaching the Word of God to keep, as much as possible, my own opinion out of it and speculation out of it completely.

A lot of times people want you to speculate on a subject and to me that is extremely dangerous. There is a danger always in approaching the scriptures with a certain mind set. "I have a particular doctrine that I have embraced, I adhere to, and though there are scriptures that would seemingly contradict the position that I believe in. I then feel the necessity of somehow explaining away those scriptures. That is dangerous. I don't think that we should meddle or tamper with the Word of God. I think that we should keep it just as pure as possible as we seek to teach the Word. And so James warns that if we take upon ourselves that position of teacher just know that along with that position goes that awesome responsibility and that one day we will have to give an account before God of how straight forward we were in handling His Word.

Now the Bible warns of those who handle the Word of God deceitfully, and I have met so many people who handled the Word of God deceitfully.

Now James is gonna talk to us about something of which we all have a problem now or then, and that's our tongue.

For in many things, [he said,] we offend all. And if any man offends not in word, the same is a perfect man, and is able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horse's mouth, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body with that bit. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor desires. Even so the tongue is a little member, but it boasts great things. Behold, how great a matter just a little fire can kindle! ( James 3:2-5 ).

So in talking about the tongue, it's a very small part of our anatomy. But yet what trouble it can get us into. What fires it can spark. The tongue is something that has a capacity for great blessings or for great evil. We can use our tongues to bless people, to build them up, to encourage them, or we can use our tongues to destroy them. And he likens the tongue though it is such a small part of the body and yet able to do such great damage move so many things like the bridle in a horse's mouth, small but yet you can move that big horse around with just a little bridle in its mouth. The rudder on a ship, a small part of the ship, but yet it turns the ship. A huge ship turned by such a small rudder, so our tongues can really control in a sense our whole lives. An especially if we don't seek to control the tongue.

The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, it is capable of defiling the whole body, it sets on fire the course of nature; and is set on fire of Gehenna. [Now,] every kind of beasts, and bird, and serpent, and things of sea, is tame, and has been tamed by man ( James 3:6-7 ).

It is interesting how that man has been able to tame all kinds of creatures. We can tame lions, we've seen the lion tamers and we've watched them in the circus. Birds can be trained to talk, and to say phrases. Even serpents can be trained and you see the... in India the guy with his flute and the Boa constrictor you know doing its thing. And of course you can go down to Sea World or over to Marineland and see how they have trained the fish. Man has learned how to train and to bring into control all these of these wild things in nature. One thing man hasn't been able to tame is his own tongue,

but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, and fully of deadly poison ( James 3:8 ).

Jesus, one day, said something that is worth considering at this point. He said, "It's not really that which goes into a man that defiles a man, but that which comes out of a man that defiles him. For out of the mouth comes blasphemies and evil speaking." And then He said it is "out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks" ( Matthew 15:11 , Matthew 15:18-19 ). That doesn't speak too good for our hearts does it? The mouth is the voice piece of the heart of man. The man revels what's inside of him by his tongue. And sometimes that frightens me.

With the tongue we bless God, even the Father ( James 3:9 );

and isn't that the highest capacity of my tongue is when I use it to praise the Lord. We were singing tonight the praises unto God and that is the highest capacity for which I can use my tongue is use it to declare praises unto God. With our tongue we bless God even the Father,

but with the same tongue we curse men, who are made after the similitude or the likeness of God. Out of same mouth there proceeds blessings and cursings. Now this ought not to be. [James said there is an inconsistency here.] Does a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can a fig tree bear olive berries? can a vine bear figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh ( James 3:9-12 ).

And so there is a paradox in our tongue it's different from anything else. From the same mouth, there can come glorious praises unto God and horrible curses unto men. The tongue, God help us that we might be so yielded to the Spirit that He would do for us what we can't do for ourselves and that is bring our tongue under control.

I've said so many things that I wish I had not of said; said in a moment of anger. How I wished I could have taken them back. And there are a lot of things that I wish I had said that I didn't a word of encouragement, a word of forgiveness, a word of comfort. You know we sometimes just don't want to give that person that consolation of saying, "Well that's all right, I understand." If I only had said it though, I could have saved them so much mental anguish and turmoil. I could have let them know that it really didn't matter.

Now he goes on to another subject and that is of true wisdom.

Who is a wise man endued with knowledge among you? let him demonstrate it by his manner of life, by his works, with the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying or strife in your hearts, that's not wise, don't glory in it, and lie not against the truth. [That is a lie against the truth, the bitterness and striving and envyness within your heart.] For this kind of wisdom descends not from above. It's not Godly wisdom, it's earthly, it's sensual, it's devilish. For where envying and strife is there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then it is peaceable, it is gentle, it is easy to be intreated, it is full of mercy and good fruit, it's without partiality, and without hypocrisy ( James 3:13-17 ).

Oh, what a difference. That wisdom that is earthly, sensual, devilish, envying, striving, bitterness.

Now, what marks your life? What kind of wisdom comes forth from you? He says that you should show forth the wisdom by your manner of living. Demonstrate the wisdom. In reality our manner of life does demonstrate the source of our wisdom. And if I am constantly in strife, constantly in turmoil, constantly stirred up, constantly, you know, bad mouthing this person, that person, this thing, that thing, then that wisdom that I have is not of God. For the wisdom that comes from God has such marvelous characteristics, it's pure, it's peaceable it's gentle, easily intreated.

And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, of them that makes peace ( James 3:18 ).

So this is just good practical advice for getting along with people. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on James 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.