James 3

Tonight we will gather to discuss James 3.  (There was no Friday email this week due to work issues.)  This section is composed of two primary sections.  Verses 1-12 principally concern the role of teachers in the community with an overarching theme that the speech of all community members should be pure. And verses 13-18 form a transitional section with the remainder of the letter and continues to develop the theme of “walking-the-talk” while beginning to develop the new theme of envy which we will read next week. 

James’ teaching here is that we all, but particularly teachers, must control our speech, because of the power that speech has. For James, the issue is not doctrinally subversive speech where someone teaches the wrong thing, but ethically subversive speech where someone speaks condemnation and evil. This teaching addresses similar criticism that Jesus leveled at the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 12:33-37. James is clear that we are to be judged by our speech and therefore we should not speak evil and condemnation towards those also made in God’s image, regardless of who they are. It is always easier to see this problem in others, particularly those with whom we disagree. But it is in this section particularly that James uses the first person “we” in his teaching, not the second person “you” that he uses throughout most of the rest of his letter. Of all of James’ teaching, it is controlling speech that can be analyzed and criticized only in the first-person.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.  Please be prepared to talk tonight, but only with blessings and fresh water.

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
    and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
    and discerning if they hold their tongues.

Proverbs 17:27-28

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