Answer to Question 2
James makes some interesting observations about our tongues. Why do we need to control our tongues?
The first two verses of the chapter dovetail nicely into James's next theme which concerns the tongue. Just as the teacher may lead society astray, so one little organ of the body may lead the individual astray. He abjures us to work hard to control our tongue. For its power over the rest of the body is as great as the power that the small rudder has over the course of an entire ship.
He points out "the tongue is a little member that boasts great things." We can all think of times that our words lead to difficulties, a misplaced jest, a "Fruedian Slip", a proclamation of love (or hatred), a commitment on a contract, a glib remark, an impossible promise, a dangerous dare. Such words have to power to make us do things that hurt ourselves or others. In verse 19 of chapter one, James has already cautioned us to be "swift to hear" and "slow to speak."
We can even recall the best of men being led astray by the work of their tongues. Peter, in Matthew (26:35), tells Jesus that he will never deny Him. Yet after the trial that led to His crucifixion and before the cock crowed, Peter found occasion to deny His Lord three separate times.
James goes further, in chapter 3, verse 8, "The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." Here we are again reminded of the power of the tongue. No man may tame it, but it may be kept under control with the help of God. He does not want us to refrain from its use altogether, but to regulate it for our own good and the good of others.
Next Page | Return to Questions