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“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. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:2–6, KJV)
We had started out chapter three with an ijnunction that not every Christian should desire to be a pastor. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s almost a unique statement in the Bible, BECAUSE for one of the only times I can recall, it is the conditional statement (“because”) that is the dominant thought, and not the originating statement. Things are usually said the OTHER way by God.
Now, we carry on the conditional statement, and we make it clear – this is the tongue we talk about. THe issue of not everyone should be a pastor is now left behind. The original language reads “Gar” – for, because, not “De”, and, but.
Anyone who says a knowledge of Koine Greek is useless is only justifying their not learning it! It’s actually not that hard. Well, not for me, because apparently, I have a gift for learning languages. I easily pick up words and phrases. If you’re interested in learning, I have six months of lessons on my greek and hebrew blog. I still plan on adding to that, by the way, but right now – I’m a little busy. Actually a lot busy.
Around the time that this book was being written, there were two famous Rabbi’s, who were influential. One of them is Hillel, the other Shammai. Rabbi Shammai had a saying that was written down in Pirke Avos that reads, “There is nothing better for a man than silence.”
liberals will say that James was influenced by Shammai. That’s because for theological liberals, the thought that God wrote the Bible is intolerable. Yet, literally, that’s the facts. James may indeed have been influenced by Shammai, or may not. He may not even have cared! We don’t know.
Because God chose the words that James wrote down. Indeed, the very letters! So, whether James was influenced by Shammai or not, it’s irrelevant. James did not choose the words of his epistle – God did.
However, the fact remains… James is saying “curb your tongue.” How many people have been murdered over words? How many wars erupt over words?
Words offend in many ways. Tone of voice here is lumped in here, because often it’s not what we say, but how we say it.
Think before you speak! Is this helpful? Is this hurtful? Does it absolutely need to be said? Are you saying it to help… or to run someone else’s life?