Here in chapter three James calls our attention to the tongue as another example of authentic faith.
First, as believers we should be careful who we follow.
- Second, as believers we should be careful of what we teach.
- Third, we should be careful that our speech and actions match
1. Before a person can be a teacher, he or she must be a learner. We must be learners and indeed we are learners. We are being taught everyday whether we are aware of it or not. Therefore we must not presume to be teachers before we have been learners and we must be careful to follow the true shepherd.
Jesus said in John chapter 10,:2-5
“The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice but they will never follow a stranger, in fact, they will run from him because they do not recognize a strangers voice. “
We are the watchmen and if we fail to teach others of the true shepherd’s voice, or if we teach a false gospel that leads others away from reconciliation with God. We will be judged stricter (Mark 9:42)
Furthermore a quote by John Macarthur will make it clearer for you.
“James is not restraining the genuinely gifted, qualified, called, sincere, or knowlegable, but he’s saying take great pains to ascertain the seriousness of the position of teacher before you step into that role.”
So James is saying whether you are official or unofficial in your teaching capacity at the church you should be careful.
We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
There are 2 interpretations for the word perfect in this verse.
First, the idea is not that we retreat from our responsibilities as Christians but that we start first guarding our hearts through our speech. This strategy for self control starts with the tongue, and then everything else will fall into place. Also we know Jesus was the only perfect man and we all fail however James is possibly saying in this verse that we should be encouraging each other to follow Jesus example and in doing so, be sanctified unto perfection.
The second interpretation would read this way. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a mature man, able to keep his whole body in check. This implies that as we grow in self control of our tongue, we grow in Christian maturity. This acts as a guard for the teacher against accusations and a guard to the name of Christ against slander that may be brought to it on our account.
Finally, what you need to hear is that God takes words seriously. He takes hearts and attitudes, which are really the sins that the tongue reveals seriously. He wants you to know that he forgives you. You can become one who deals graciously with others. Remember, that the first life was spoken into existence by the mouth of God. He just spoke and there it was – the earth. He just spoke and there was a garden with animals and plants and Adam and Eve. Take hold of the word of God and bridle that tongue so that you may show yourself mature and able to stand against sin the world and the devil. Then you will be a watchman. You will be a teacher. You will be, a mature Christian.