Read This Week’s Passage: James 3:1–12
For most people, speaking is one of the easiest actions in the world. The mouth opens, vocal cords vibrate, the lips and tongue form sounds, and, voilà: communication. Though easy to do, it’s much harder to control. When strong feelings come, it’s easy to give them expression through regrettable words and harsh tones.
This problem is not limited to non-Christians. As James aptly pointed out, “With [our tongues] we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:9, 10). Just because this is a common problem, that does not make it acceptable. It goes against the reality of nature: how can a spring of water yield both fresh water and bitter? How can a fig tree bear olives? (vv. 11, 12) They have to yield one or the other.
Contrary words—a mixture of blessing and cursing from the same tongue—gives evidence of a contrary heart, one that is still in need of deeper surrender, a deeper cleansing by the hand of God. Instead of focusing on the fruit of the problem (words), it is essential to yield to God the root of the problem (the heart).