Reading for Wednesday, June 6: James 3
James continues to teach us the wisdom of God. In chapter 3, he has wise words regarding our speech. Just as a large beast can be controlled by a bit in the mouth, so too are we controlled by our speech. We think and act and live in language. Everything about our being is constituted by the words we learn and deploy. James doesn’t have kind things to say about the tongue: it is “a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.” Obviously, James is using words to make his point, so this is no blanket condemnation of speech. The Gospel comes to us through articulation and we are spiritually formed by the encouragement and rebuke we receive from God — in His Word and by trusted companions along the Way.
Instead, James nudges us toward Gospel-formed speech. Too often, we are “double-tongued”, using our speech to simultaneously bless and curse (v10). We would do well to examine our speech for flippant and careless expression. Slander, gossip, racial slurs, off-color jokes…these are the kinds of things James warns us about.
In the last part of the chapter, James returns to the broader discussion of wisdom, imploring us to seek the wisdom of God, coming down from heaven. Rather than give in to earthy, unspiritual wisdom, we look to the wisdom of God and it’s abundant qualities: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”