New International Reader's Version

James 3

Control What You Say

1My brothers and sisters, most of you shouldn’t become teachers. That’s because you know that those of us who teach will be held more accountable. All of us get tripped up in many ways. Suppose someone is never wrong in what they say. Then they are perfect. They are able to keep their whole body under control.

We put a small piece of metal in the mouth of a horse to make it obey us. We can control the whole animal with it. And how about ships? They are very big. They are driven along by strong winds. But they are steered by a very small rudder. It makes them go where the captain wants to go. In the same way, the tongue is a small part of a person’s body. But it talks big. Think about how a small spark can set a big forest on fire. The tongue is also a fire. The tongue is the most evil part of the body. It makes the whole body impure. It sets a person’s whole way of life on fire. And the tongue itself is set on fire by hell.

People have tamed all kinds of wild animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures. And they still tame them. But no one can tame the tongue. It is an evil thing that never rests. It is full of deadly poison.

With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. With our tongues we curse people. We do it even though people have been created to be like God. 10 Praise and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, it shouldn’t be this way. 11 Can fresh water and salt water flow out of the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree produce olives? Can a grapevine produce figs? Of course not. And a saltwater spring can’t produce fresh water either.

Two Kinds of Wisdom

13 Is anyone among you wise and understanding? That person should show it by living a good life. A wise person isn’t proud when they do good deeds. 14 But suppose your hearts are jealous and bitter. Suppose you are concerned only about getting ahead. Then don’t brag about it. And don’t say no to the truth. 15 Wisdom like this doesn’t come down from heaven. It belongs to the earth. It doesn’t come from the Holy Spirit. It comes from the devil. 16 Are you jealous? Are you concerned only about getting ahead? Then your life will be a mess. You will be doing all kinds of evil things.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is pure. That’s the most important thing about it. And that’s not all. It also loves peace. It thinks about others. It obeys. It is full of mercy and good fruit. It is fair. It doesn’t pretend to be what it is not. 18 Those who make peace plant it like a seed. They will harvest a crop of right living.