SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- The chapter begins with a reminder that we all stumble and sin. No one is perfect. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't try; it simply means that we can only succeed with God's help.
- A major chunk of the chapter is about the power of our tongue and the words that we speak. Words can be used for good or evil, to build people up or tear them down. James makes it clear that the tongue cannot be tamed. The same mouth that praises God and curses our neighbor. This shouldn't be. And the only way to overcome it is with God's help.
- The problems in how we speak to one another tend to be driven by "bitter envy and selfish ambition" (verse 14).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Remember, "no human being can tame the tongue." There is no amount of discipline that can change that fact. We are incapable, but God IS capable. If we submit ourselves to God and seek him, he will give us wisdom and guidance.
- Human wisdom is characterized by bitter envy and selfish ambition. God's wisdom is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, good fruit, impartial, and sincere. Most importantly, God's wisdom can be known by the good deeds it produces and the peace that it brings. Peace sows peace.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Honesty time: is your life characterized more by human or godly wisdom? Do your conversations sow peace or conflict? Are your words filled with love or jealousy? Do you help others or just yourself? Do good deeds flow from your life or just selfish ambition? Where do you need to allow God to help you with his heavenly wisdom? Ask God for help that only he can give.