James 3 - Lesson

Dangerous Words

  • “The tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.” – James 3:5.

Just as large ships are steered by small rutters, and powerful horses are controlled by the small bits placed in their mouths, our tongues may be small, but they can have a powerful impact on the lives of others.  


Has anyone ever said something to you that hurt you so badly you still remember what they said, and how it made you feel?     

Maybe it still hurts?     

Our words are powerful, and if we are not careful, they can leave scars that damage others.   Our words can be used to praise God, and they can also be used to tear others apart.

James wrote about this in his epistle:

  • “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” – James 3:8-10.


  • “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” - Proverbs 18:21,
  • “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” - Ephesians 4:29,
  • “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” - Proverbs 12:18,
  • “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” - Mathew 12:36.


As we grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s word, we need to do away with jealousy and selfish ambition, and focus our attention on the gentleness of wisdom described in James 3:13-17:

  • “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdomBut if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.  This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” – James 3:13-17

When we do this, the Fruit of the Spirit should be present in all that we say and do.   As the Holy Spirit works in our lives, others should see and hear in us the Christian attributes that Paul wrote about in his letter to the Galatians:

  • “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.    If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” – Galatians 5:22-26.


Although the tongue is small, its ability to impact others is great.   Our words are powerful!   They can build others up, but they can also tear them down.   Therefore, we need to choose our words carefully, and make sure they are edifying to those that we speak to.     

All of us will give an account for the words that come out of our mouths.

  • “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” - Mathew 12:36.

The stronger our faith becomes, the gentler, and more edifying our words should become.  

We will end today’s lesson with two quotes, and a scripture:

  1. "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." – Mother Teresa,
  2. “Be kind.   We never know what others are going through.” – Germany Kent,
  3. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13:35.    


Dan W

We can make such a difference in the lives of others by the way we communicate.

Penny Bourne
Dan W

.Thank you so much for this lesson. I have heard it many times before. I try very hard to speak kindly, to be encouraging and to give wise council and leading when I am asked questions. I do not swear and I try very hard to live for Christ. When I have heard a message as many times as I have heard this one and I still feel challenged, I know that I need to speak to the Spirit. Again tonight that is where I find myself, and not for the first time He reminds me that He has told me before about talking about other people. I have repented of this sin many times and truly turned away. but again I seem to turn back.Please advise me. Christian love and prayers to you all.

Penny Bourne

Thank you for sharing Penny. We all struggle with some type of sin. For me, I try to remove the stumbling blocks in my life that I know tempt me by focusing on something else, something positive (Philippians 4:8).

It is a process. Crawl, walk, run. Try to turn away the next time you are tempted to talk about other people. If you can be successful the next time, celebrate that, and then move on to something positive.

Penny Bourne

James 4: 11-12:

"Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?"