Did you notice that James 3 begins with a pretty serious warning, telling that teachers will incur a stricter judgment. The writer of the letter tells us that with that tiny thing in our head, our tongue, do we bless our Lord and our Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God and as such from the same mouth comes both blessing and cursing. (James 3:1,5,8)
Bible scholars agree that this admonition is meant to warn prospective teachers of the serious nature of their role, but is not meant to discourage true teachers from accepting this responsibility. Teaching is not for everyone, so Bible teachers should understand the responsibility before they accept the position.
Though we should not only think that the letter concerns only teachers or instructors in the strict sense. It is also for all those who want to give advice to others. We should also think about our behaviour and our words when we are between friends or other people, for example at work.
In the Book of Job we can find several speeches of Job’s friends who got to accuse him of gaining his now lost wealth by robbing the poor, withholding sustenance from the hungry and even abusing the weaker ones like widows and orphans. Some of those friends even appeal to experience for authority (Eliphaz in Job 22:6-9). Several people talking to others who are suffering often like to put the fault of it by them, like the less sensitive Bildad from Shua and Zophar said that Job and his children were suffering because of what they did wrong (or because of their sin) (Job 8:1-7).
We should see that the apostle in his letter to his brethren and sisters has it about the condemnation for wrong-doing, deserved based on people their careless actions. True believers should not be misled thinking they can do and say whatever they want, because supposedly they would already be saved for ever. In this world we find lots of such “Once saved, always saved” folks and preachers. In the letters of James this subject comes more than once in the attention or on the forefront.
Martin Luther, for example, who was a staunch advocate of “justification by faith,” is stated to have dismissed the Epistle of James, which speaks of “justification by works”, as an “epistle of straw”! The whole counsel of God in this matter finds a place for both aspects: as Dr. Thomas has put it tersely:
James warns us to be careful when we are under people, talking with believers as well as with unbelievers. We better take Job as an example, whose
lips shall not speak evil words, neither shall my soul meditate unrighteous thoughts. (Job 27:4)
We also should remember that in the end
they that forget the right way are weakened; they are removed from [among] men. (Job 28:4)
Therefore, let us not forget that every careless word that people speak, be they just ordinary folks, preachers, ministers, priests ,bishops or popes, they shall have to give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For we should remember that Jesus told that the basis for judgment is by our words, and that we will be justified by them.
“36 And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Mt 12:36-37 ASV)
- Matthew 12:33-37 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Judgment Day
- Matthew 13:36-43 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Zizania in the Field Explained
- Matthew 16:24-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: A Disciple Must Disown Self
- The Tongue an Outlet
- A tongue to speak slowly and well-considered
- Wisdom lies deep
- Your New Job Description — Bless!