Plain James
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Lesson Four:  James Three

We have two ears and one tongue.  Is God trying to tell us something?  Nevertheless, we will and should speak.  “You can change your world by changing your words... Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  Joel Osteen realizes that the eight muscles that make up the average four-inch tongue can be used for good or evil.

James chapter three is known as the “go to passage” concerning the tongue.

By the way, can you touch your nose with your tongue (10% of the general population can)?

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
What is one of your all-time best bloopers with something you said?

Why is a more strict judgment placed upon teachers?

How does this relate to taming the tongue?

What have you found to be helpful in controlling your tongue?


How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

What is the point of comparing the tongue to a fire?


Matthew 7:16-18 (from the Sermon on the Mount) says, You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.”

Explain how this relates to James three and specifically to taming the tongue.


Without coming across as judging, does a certain fruit imply a certain type of tree?  Do we owe it to friends to point out their “fruit”?


Do you struggle more with saying the wrong things or not saying enough right things to God and others?


13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
What best describes you when working with a committee:

            A busy bee?

            A hibernating bear?

            A wise old owl?

            A prowling lion?

Have you seen all these characters in meetings?

What are the characteristics of earthly and heavenly wisdom? 

            Their source?

            Their symptoms?

            Their results?

Verse 18 seems to relate to Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” 

Who is a peacemaker you know?

How can you become a better peacemaker?

Does this whole chapter relate to the tongue?


Close each day in prayer saying, Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Revisit the day focusing on what you should and shouldn’t have said and make plans to correct it.


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