The Power of the Tongue - James 3

The Power of the Tongue

James 3:1-18

        "Death and life are in the power of the tongue...."  Proverbs 18:21.

        The third chapter of James is about the untamable tongue.  "For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.  But no man can tame the tongue.  It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."  James 3:7, 8. 

        The tongue has the power to direct others.  James compares it to the bit of a horse and the rudder of a ship.  "Indeed, we put bits in the horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.  Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires."  James 3:3, 4.  Our words can lead others to Jesus and life, or turn them away. 

        The tongue has the power to destroy others.  It's likened to a fire.  "Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.  See how great a forest a little fire kindles!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.  The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell."  James 3:5, 6.  Unkind words ruin lives.

        The tongue has the power to display what kind of people we are.  Sometimes our lives are a contradiction to our faith.  "With it (the tongue) we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men....  Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?  Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?"  Of course not!  Our words reveal what we are on the inside.  Profane words expose a profane person, kind words a kind person, and so on.  Jesus expressed this when He said, "By their fruits you will know them."  Matthew 7:20.

        While we all stumble in many things, the man of godly wisdom and understanding speaks words that are "first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy."  This doesn't happen overnight.  It's the mature believer, who exercises the greatest control over this little member, the tongue.  "If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect (or mature) man...." 

        In the meantime, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one."  Colossians 4:6.  Your words are powerful.  Be careful, little tongue, what you say.


        Lord, how careless we are at times!  Keep watch over our mouths.  We wish only to say those things which will bless and build up.  May we speak words of life.  In Jesus' name.  Amen!

The Cure for Worldliness - James 4


All About God

Scripture taken from the
New King James Version.
Copyright ©
1979, 1980, 1982
by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Used by Permission.
All rights reserved.

Navigation Tips

Since visitors use different browsers and monitors, and have different preferences in how they navigate through a website, we've provided multiple ways to progress through the studies on

1) For those who find drop-down, slide-out menus convenient, just hover over the category (menu link on the top bar) and sub-category (menu link in the drop down list).  If there is an arrow to the right of the item, the articles in that category will slide out.  (If there is no arrow, just click on the item.)  Click on any article to read it.  If you have a "wheel mouse," you should be able to roll it toward you to see more of the drop-down menu.

2) If you are unable to see all the drop-down or slide-out items (or just prefer a different way of navigating), click on the category (menu link on the top bar), then on any sub-category in the list that appears.  You will see a list of articles to choose from OR use our Site Map.

3) Most studies are part of a series (category or sub-category).  Each article within the category has a link to the next article so you can progress easily to the next study.

4) At the top of the page, you will also notice "Breadcrumbs" that show which category and sub-category you are in.  You may click on those links to return to the "parent" category or sub-category list.

5) ANSWERS to Review Questions and Quizzes are found in links at the end of the Review Questions or Quiz.  They may also be accessed by clicking on the category (which will show a list of all articles in the category).  The link at the end of the article will cause a pop up window to appear so you may easily refer to other pages on the site; the link in the Category list will open a normal page.

If you're looking for a particular topic, word, or phrase, try the Search feature in the right column.

Close this box by clicking on the top (dark brown) part again.