WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29
SCRIPTURE: JAMES 3
As you read through this chapter, it may appear that James is covering three subjects. While there are most certainly three sections in this chapter, they are all really about the same thing. Quite simply that is the words that we speak.
In verse one, James cautions us about too many people becoming teachers. He says that teachers will face a stricter judgment than those who don’t teach. Obviously the words a teacher speaks carry great weight and importance. If those words are wrong, great damage could be done to those who listen. If those words don’t match up with the life of the one speaking them, listeners will have a tendency to ignore the words. As a result, those who teach will face a greater scrutiny and subsequent response than those who don’t teach.
That doesn’t mean teachers are perfect. No one is. No teacher is. In fact, the verse goes on to say that we all stumble in many ways. We all mess up in many ways. But then James makes a most interesting statement. He says that one who doesn’t stumble in what he says is a perfect man and is able to control his entire body. Jesus said that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person but what comes out of his mouth. The reason our words defile us is they represent what is in the heart. And what is in the heart effects everything about us.
From there James goes on to give several examples of how devastating and destructive our words can be. He says that it should not be that words of blessing and of cursing could come out of the same mouth. Our words are powerful and permanent. We must be careful what we say.
At this point James switches to one of his favorite subjects: wisdom. He speaks of a worldly wisdom that is boastful and untruthful. Those kinds of things lead to even worse things like jealousy and selfish ambition and those things create disorder and all kinds of sinful behavior.
On the other hand, there is a Godly wisdom that is much different. This kind of wisdom is pure and peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, leads to good deeds, treats everyone equally and has great integrity. God’s wisdom always impacts our relationships with others in very positive ways. It does so because God’s wisdom does not just impact our words. God’s wisdom changes our behavior. Wisdom is the source of good words and good works.
James ends this chapter by reminding us of the utter value of sowing peace. When we sow peace, we reap righteousness. Oddly enough, the effect of righteousness is more peace. The Bible says, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:17)
So when we sow peace, we reap righteousness. The effect of righteousness is a greater peace (quietness) and a firmer assurance (confidence). That is a much better way to live.