Skip to main content

James 3:1-12 Discussion Guide

Introduction: When have you “freely spoken your mind” or “given someone a piece of your mind”? What was good about it, and what was not good about it?

Read 1 Corinthians 2:11-15: 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Explain: Paul contrasts mere human wisdom with the revealed wisdom of God.  We can know the mind of Christ because he has made himself known to us.

Question 1: When you think back to a time when you “spoke your mind,” how would it have been different if you had been able to speak more from the mind of Christ than your own mind?

Read 3:1-12: 1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olive, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Explain: The larger context for this passage is this:
1. We are to live fully devoted lives to Christ, even in the midst of suffering.
2. Saving faith must show up in works of faith.
3. Words are a work of faith.
4. Words flow from our hearts and impact our relationships with each other.

Question 2: How do you see your own words as flowing from the condition of your heart? How have your words impacted others (in good and not-so-good ways)?

Question 3: Which of James’ illustrations about the tongue stands out most and why?

Question 4: When has someone spoken a word that was life-giving to you?

Question 5: When have you spoken a life-giving word to others? Why don’t we do this more often?

Question 6: Do you believe your heart and tongue can significantly change (why or why not)?

Question 7:  What is your plan regarding changing?  Specifically, how will you engage God’s primary resources for change (His Word, Spirit, People)?

Question 8: Who do you need to forgive or give grace to for having failed in the use of their words towards you?

Read: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal. 6:9

Prayer:  Pray for hope, courage, endurance, change.

Leave a Reply