James 3:9-18

Henry Mahan

The human tongue is the instrument that is used in praising God for all of His mercies in Christ, both in prayer and singing hymns. The tongue is used to thank God before meals, to speak of His glorious attributes, and to join with other believers in worship of the Lord.

The human tongue is also the instrument that is used to curse, criticize, slander, and speak harshly and hurtfully to men and women who were made by God in His own image.

Some, by the grace of God, use their tongues to bless God. Some, whose tongues are untamed by grace, use their tongues to curse others and to speak unkindly. But, unfortunately, there are those who TRY TO DO BOTH! With the same tongue they bless God, talk religion, and profess holiness; then they curse, criticize, and speak evil of one another. This, my brethen, is a contradiction, not only wicked and sinful, but unnatural, unbecoming, and unworthy of the Christian name.

How ridiculous and absurd it is to think that a man may TRULY PRAISE GOD and with the same tongue lie, curse, and blaspheme. It cannot be done any more than a fountain can yield both fresh and bitter water or a fig tree can bear olives.

"Who among you is a wise and intelligent person?" All of us like to think that we are wise and knowledgeable. Not one of us would consider himself a fool! If you would PROVE that you are spiritually wise and intelligent, let it be known by your CONDUCT and CONVERSATION. This is not a single act or two, but a course of living which is in keeping with the Word of God and the spirit of humilty, peace, and love. Daily godliness, words seasoned with grace, an attitude of humility and love is evidence of spiritual wisdom.

But if you have bitter envy, jealousy, strife, and contention in your hearts and from your mouths, do not glory in your so-called knowledge and wisdom, for this is a lie and contrary to the truth (1 Cor. 3:1-3; 1 John 2:9; 1 John 4:20).

Superficial wisdom is not from God, but is of the earth - unspiritual and even devilish. You can be sure that when our attitude and words create strife, confusion, and division among the brethren, when we speak from envy, bitterness, and selfishness, it is NOT THE WISDOM OF GOD. Where wise men worship there is love, mercy, and peace; but where there is envy and strife, there will be confusion and evil work (Gal, 5:13-16). "Wisdom is justified and vindicated by her children and their deeds" (Matt. 11:19).

"But the wisdom which is from God is:" (1) "Pure." Out of the heart the mouth speaks; so when the heart entertains pure and good thoughts, the mouth speaks accordingly (Matt. 5:8). (2) "Peaceable." This is the opposite of strife (Prov. 15:1-2; Matt. 5:9). Men who desire peace speak peacefully. (3) "Gentle." Mild, courteous, kind, and patient. To contend for truth is not to be harsh, cruel, and unbending (as some suppose). Gentleness is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), an attribute of Christ (II Cor. 10:1), and is an attribute of His servants (II Tim. 2:24). (4) "Easy to be entreated." Or, "willing to listen" to any word of reason, explanation, or exhortation. Quick to forgive and waiting to be gracious. This is not a sign of weakness, but of wisdom. (5) "Full of mercy and good fruits." Wisdom knows Who maketh men to differ, knows Who maketh rich and poor, knows whence cometh our help; having freely received it FREELY GIVES (Matt. 10:8; Eccles. 11:1). (6) "Without partiality." Wisdom does not judge by outward appearance, skin color, or power to reimburse. It is no respecter of men's persons, but loves and reaches out to all. (7) "Without hypocrisy." True spiritual wisdom in Christ is straight-forward, free from doubts, fears, and insincerity.

Where heavenly wisdom and love live and operate, the fruit of such righteousness is enjoyed. Those who sow in peace usually reap a peaceful harvest. Love begats love. "He who would have friends must show himself friendly" (Prov. 18:24).

Henry Mahan, Pastor
Thirteenth Street Baptist Church
Ashland, Ky.

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