Daily Devotional Tuesday 17th November 2020

by William Moody

James 3:1–12

Taming the Tongue

3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life,1 and set on fire by hell.2 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,3 these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.


[1] 3:6 Or wheel of birth
[2] 3:6 Greek Gehenna
[3] 3:10 Or brothers and sisters; also verse 12


The Ninth Commandment
(Shorter Catechism 76-78)

The ninth commandment is, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” (A.76.)

“The ninth commandment requires the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbour’s good name, especially in witness-bearing.” (A.77).

“The ninth commandment forbids whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbour’s good name.” (A.78).

This commandment has two main concerns, firstly that we are faithful in maintaining the truth and secondly that we are faithful in not harming our neighbours with our words. This means we should not share words if we are not sure they are absolutely true. It also means we should not be sharing even true words if they harm our neighbours and their reputation.

James teaches us that the tongue is very powerful and that it has potential to cause a great deal of harm. He also teaches that the tongue is very hard to control. How many times have you heard a message about the tongue and determined to change your ways, only to quickly fall back into old ways? We must plead for God’s grace to control our tongues because God takes its misuse very seriously.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.