The character of man is revealed throughout Scripture. We learn about those thoughts, words, and deeds which bring the favor and blessings of God; in contrast, we also see that which doesn’t. The tongue is an example that James discusses. First, he warns those who desire to teach to be very careful in what they say. A teacher can have much influence. As a result, the words he speaks must be weighed carefully so as not to mislead those who hear. James 3:1 says:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
I realize that this warning is as much for me as for anyone else. With my writings, the classes I’ve taught, and the video Prophecy Updates I’ve done, I’ve certainly professed to be a teacher of the Word. Because I take a very high view of Scripture, I’ve approached this privilege and responsibility with as much care to preserve reverence for the Lord as I can.
God’s Word is not to be trifled with, whether by a teacher or anyone else. When a person speaks, that which comes forth from the mouth has more power and influence than we often realize. As the saying goes: Words mean things. They can bring forth justice and righteousness in accordance with the will of God. Or, as James 3:6 tells us:
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, and set on fire by hell.
That which someone says can be the source of evil straight from the pit of hell. If words are unleashed from the belly of the demonic realm, the mouth that speaks these things may be uttering that which Satan himself purposes. James 3:8 declares in this respect:
… but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
To what do we as humans aspire? Do we wish to represent God or the devil? What we say is what comes from our heart. Our words will eventually reveal if we operate in the wisdom and understanding from above. Again, in contrast, we have James 3:14-16:
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
We see this truth so prevalent in the world today. It is certainly evident in the sphere in which most of us operate, i.e. locally in our communities, or even neighbors and family. However, where jealousy and selfish ambition operate at the most malevolent levels is among those who rule and govern. Sadly, the vast majority of those in positions of power – because there are so few who truly know and love God – are swayed by their passions and subject to great demonic influence. Their “wisdom” comes from the flesh. The natural world is the source of what they know. They are subject to the prince of the power of the air (Ephesian 2:2).
Can such people sow the fruit of the Spirit, i.e. love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control; [which] against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23)? It’s a rhetorical question. The answer is a resounding no!
That’s the purpose of the truths in which James instructs us. We must know the difference. Our discernment to determine right from wrong is critical. This is his point in asking in James 3:11-12:
Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
Let us listen carefully to what someone says. Just as important, we must watch what he does. God will reveal all things in His time. That which is in the heart of a person will be shown.
Regardless of what anyone else displays in his life, let each of us who know the Lord Jesus Christ walk in righteousness and peace. From there, justice will follow.