James 3:1-12

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. They must teach carefully what the Bible says. They must ask God to help them to understand his message. Also, teachers should not only speak the words of God's message. They must also live good lives to show other Christians how to live.

Think about this. A very small fire can cause even a big forest to burn completely. 6 And our tongue is like that fire. It has the power of everything in the world that is bad. 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 animals, birds, snakes and fish. 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 speak bad things against 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 God and also to speak bad things. My Christian friends, we should not do this. 11 Salty water and sweet water never come from the same well. 12 A fig tree cannot give olives, my friends. A vine for grapes cannot give figs. And a salty well cannot give sweet water.

3:12We must be careful to speak only things that are good. The Devil wants us to say bad things. We must not agree to do that. If we belong to God, our mouths should not mix together good things and bad things in what we say. We should be like a well that only gives sweet water.