James 3

Be careful how you speak

1 My Christian friends, not many of you should become teachers. We people who teach God's message must be very careful. When God judges everybody, he will demand more from us than from other people. 2 We all make many mistakes. So, if someone never says anything that is bad, that person is completely good. It shows that he has authority over his whole body. 3 For example, think about how we make a horse go the right way. We put a small bit of metal in its mouth so that we can turn it. Then we can cause the horse's whole body to go where we want it to go. 4 Also, think about ships that sail on the sea. They are very large. Strong winds push them with great power. But we fix a piece of wood at the back of the ship. With this small piece of wood, the master can cause the ship to go anywhere that he wants it to go. 5 In the same way, our tongue is a very small part of our body. But it speaks as if it is very great.

3:1Teachers must be careful to teach God's word correctly. Because they have authority as teachers, they can cause a lot of trouble to people if they do not teach what is true. So God will judge them very strictly.

Think about this. A very small fire can cause even a big forest to burn completely. 6 A person's tongue is like a fire. It has the power of everything in the world that is wrong. It is a small part of the body but it can spoil the whole person. Like a fire, it can destroy all of a person's life. It is a fire that comes from the fire of hell itself.

7 Remember this: People can cause all kinds of things to do what they want them to do. They have done this with wild animals, birds, snakes and things that live in the sea. 8 But no person can rule his tongue. It continues to say bad things. It is like a bad poison that can cause death. 9 We use our tongue to praise the Lord God who is our Father. But then we use it to curse other people. That is wrong, because God made those people to be like himself. 10 This shows that we use the same mouth to praise and also to curse. My Christian friends, we should not do this. 11 Salty water and sweet water never come from the same spring. 12 A fig tree cannot give olives, my friends. A vine for grapes cannot give figs. And a salty spring cannot give sweet water.

How to be wise

13 Do some of you think that you are wise? Do you think that you are clever? If so, show that you are wise by the way that you live. Be kind to other people. Do things that are good. That is what it means to be wise. 14 But if you live in a bad way, do not think that you are wise. Are you jealous of other people so that you hate them? Do you want to make yourself important? If you live like that, do not say that you are great and wise. You are not saying what is true. 15 You are not being wise in the way that God wants you to be wise. Instead, you are thinking like people who do not know God. Your thoughts do not come from God's Spirit. They come from demons. 16 If you are jealous of other people and you want to make yourself important, that will cause trouble. People will argue and fight against one another. They will do all kinds of bad things. 17 But if God makes you really wise, you will live in a completely good way. That is the most important thing. Also, you will live in a way that brings peace. You will be kind to other people so that they become your friends. You will listen to them and not argue. You will forgive them and do many good things to help them. You will not choose between people. And you will not be a hypocrite.

18 Those who bring peace to other people help them to live together in peace. As a result, people choose to do what is right and good.