James 3:1-4 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

James warns of the risk of becoming a teacher. The teacher who doesn’t measure up to what he or she professes to believe can do more harm than the blatant sinner who makes no bones about sinning. Furthermore, teachers who teach false doctrine are dangerous. James tells us that teachers in general will be judged more strictly than the rest of the population.

“That’s not fair!” I’ve heard it said by teachers and pastors alike. They argue that they are fallible the same as anyone else. And there is some truth in that, but they had better be dilligent in their study and genuine in their faith or people will see right through them. Most importantly lives will be damaged by a slack teacher.

James then addresses the most difficult part of the body to keep under control, and that is the tongue. Perhaps that is why he begins this passage by referring to teachers – for it is chiefly through what they say that teachers do their teaching.

The rest of these introductory verses compare the size and significance of the tongue to the body, and contrast this comparison with that of a rudder to a ship and a bit and bridle to a horse. If a ship is going to reach it’s destination, the rudder must be kept under control. The same is true of a horse, bit and bridle. James is making a powerful statement about the importance of keeping the tongue in check. He continues this discussion in the next several verses.

Father God, impress upon our hearts the importance of our witness to those around us, whether we are intentional teachers or not. Help us to be aware of the possibility that people are watching to see if we say what we mean and mean what we say. Help us not to disappoint those who might look up to us, and help us to especially guard our mouths and what we say.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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