“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” (James 3:1–2, KJV)
Here’s an oddity in the flow of thought in the Bible – this is the first time that the conditional statement (vs. 2) is the dominant thought, not the originating statement.
Verse 1 – not everyone should seek to be pastors, because pastors will be judged at much higher standards than regular Christians.
Verse 2 – We offend people in many different ways.
We’re about to start speaking of the tongue. What you say. Trust me, sometimes I wish I’d paid more attention to the Jewish proverb, “There is nothing better for a man than silence.” Surely, there are many times I’ve thought, “If only I could keep my mouth shut!” Between my anger rising up when it is not needed or unjustified (why think first when you can just act first and regret it forever???), and my saying the wrong thing at the wrong time – See, this is why I went years without really saying anything in my 20’s! Good thing.
Why are the two enjoined together? Pastors HAVE to talk. Pastors find themselves having to talk a LOT. Every word you say is literally another chance to offend a Christian.
Teaching has to be done, but those who teach must understand their responsibility, as those who teach will be judged more strictly. A teacher’s condemnation is greater because, having professed to have a clear knowledge of duty, he is all the more bound to obey it.
J. Ronald Blue, “James,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 827.