James 3: Taming the Tongue

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 155–156


Have you ever been deeply hurt by something someone said to or about you? Who do you think was hurt more—you or the person who said it? A basic teaching of James’ epistle is the need to control the tongue (see James 1:19, 26; 3:10). As you read James 3, try to determine why what we say can keep us from perfection.

Understanding the Scriptures

James 3

Helm (v. 4)Rudder 
Listeth (v. 4)Desires, wants to go 
Kindleth (v. 5)Burns 
Defileth the whole body (v. 6)Destroys or makes unclean 
Similitude (v. 9)Likeness 
Endued with knowledge (v. 13)Intelligent or experienced 
Conversation (v. 13)Conduct 
Sensual (v. 15)Lustful 
horse with bit
boat with rudder

A small bit, placed properly in its mouth, can guide a powerful horse. Similarly, a small rudder can direct or steer a very large ship.

Studying the Scriptures

Do the following activity as you study James 3.

Activity A iconTame Your Tongue

What we say is important. It is a window to our hearts. Kind and uplifting words come from pure thoughts and good feelings; evil and hurtful words come from evil thoughts and bad feelings. Read James 3:1–13 and list at least three phrases that reflect different ideas about controlling what we say.