James 3:1-12

Talks for Growing Christians

The Tongue

James 3:1-12

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Lesson Number 5

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The tongue is a small part, but it has a big effect.
  2. The tongue is a restless evil, but it can be controlled.

Practical Application

  1. It’s easier not to say it than to try and take it back.


  1. If our tongues are not kept under control, our whole persons are out of control. T or F?
  2. What is the theme of the epistle of James?
  3. Name the areas of instruction, respectively, in Chapter 1, 2 and 3.
  4. Refer to James 1:19, James 1:26, James 2:12, James 3, James 4:11, and James 5:12. What is the theme?
  5. Why do teachers of the Bible receive a stricter judgment?
  6. How can the tongue be controlled?


  1. True
  2. “Practical Christian living.” James provides practical and ethical instruction for many areas of life.
  3. Chapter 1 – instruction in reference to the testing of our faith and in reference to our temptations to sin; Chapter 2 - instruction in the sin of showing favoritism to those with social status; Chapter 3 – instruction in the use of our tongues.
  4. Controlling the tongue.
  5. If teachers do not know the word, they will sin with their tongue and stumble. Teaching the Bible is a serious responsibility, and will be judged by the Lord Himself.
  6. By doing what it takes to grow in Christ – Bible study, prayer, Christian fellowship. If you are involved in these activities, your life in Christ will thrive and your tongue will be governed by your new nature.


  1. Review James 3:3-6. List the three different illustrations given here that emphasize how something small, like the tongue, can result in great effect. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and out of control it is destructive and devastating and deceptive. Recall how you used your tongue during this past week.
  2. Good news! The tongue can be controlled. The very fact that with the tongue we can both bless God and curse men (James 3:9-10), is a hint that the tongue can be controlled. The believer has two natures, the fallen sin nature that we are born with, and the new nature because we’ve been born again and have new life in Christ. Because of our new nature, our tongues can be controlled and used to praise God and edify one another.


  1. Did you ever try to take something back that you said when you were angry or only thinking of yourself? It’s not easy to do. It is easier not to say it than to try and take it back. Our Lord said in Matthew 12:36 that for every idle word that men may speak they will give account of it in the day of judgment. How often do you wish that you had not spoken in anger or haste? Pray as David prayed in Psalm 141:3.

Key Verses

  • “My brethren, let no many of you become teachers, know that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” James 1:3
  • “Look at the bits in the horses’ mouths; look at the ships and their rudders; look at the tongue…” James 3:-6
  • “With the tongue we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men… out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things out not to be so.” James 3:9-10

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