Chapter OneCONTROLLING OUR TONGUE
Winston Churchill was known for his quick wit and sharp
tongue. On one occasion, he was confronted by his
archrival, Lady Astor.
"Winston," she said, "if I were your wife, I would put
poison in your soup."
"Lady Astor," he replied, "if I were your husband, I
would drink it!"
It's easy to laugh at such comments-especially when
they aren't aimed at us. But the tongue is no laughing
matter. We have all seen people utterly humiliated by a
harsh word, or reduced to tears by a stinging rebuke.
In this passage, James urges us to control this most
uncontrollable part of our body.
1. Do you ever have difficulty controlling your tongue? Explain.
2. Read James 3:1-12. James directs his first comments at teachers
and aspiring teachers (v. 1). What advice does he give them, and
Why do you think teachers will be judged more strictly than others?
3. Why does James assume that if we can control our tongues, we
must be perfect (v. 2)?
4. Do you normally think of your tongue as the most uncontrollable
part of your body? Why or why not?
5. According to James, how is the tongue like a horse's bit, a ship's
rudder, and a small spark (vv. 3-5)?
Give examples of how your tiny tongue can direct the course of
6. How can the tongue's impact on people be similar to a fire (v. 6), a wild animal (vv. 7-8), and a deadly poison (v. 8)?
7. When have you seen a person's life hurt or even destroyed by
8. If "no man can tame the tongue" (v. 8), what hope do we have of
ever controlling that part of our body?