Timeless truths about speech. There are many ways in which we “stumble.” The most common is in our speech. For example, we stumble in our speech through criticism, gossip, lying, arrogance, and slander. Remember the context of this verse. James just introduced the responsibility of teachers. Here is speaks of our words.
Words are very powerful. The “tongue” represents any means of communication.
In verse two, “a perfect man” does not mean sinless perfection. The word “perfect” means complete, mature. Do mature people stumble? Of course! James is saying that a mature person does not sin with his tongue as often because he disciplines his heart. Remember, the tongue is simply a mirror of the heart. If there is bitterness in the heart, there will be bitterness in the tongue.
Whatever is in the heart will come out of the tongue (verbal and written.) I like using blue ink pens. Once I put a black ink refill cartridge in my blue pen. I immediately noticed my error when I began writing. What came out of the pen was simply a reflection of that which was inside the pen. Your words are simply a reflection of your heart.
How do you “clean up” your speech? Begin with your heart! A disciplined heart will demonstrate a disciplined use of words. Godly speech flows from a godly heart.
“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.” James 3:2-4 NASB