Jas 3:9-12 “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.”
James has told us that the tongue is an unruly member that needs to be bridled. The tongue (indicating speech), which gives voice to our thoughts, can do great damage when it is not kept under control. Since our thoughts come from the mind, the way to bridle (direct) the tongue is to have the mind of Christ (1Co 2:16). If we are not looking to that godly direction then the outcome is truly undesirable.
Unless we are bridling our tongues, we will find ourselves praising God with one breath and abhorring our neighbor with the next. There is no way that we can fulfill the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves and not bridle our tongue with the mind of Christ. Again, keep in mind that James is still writing to “beloved brethren” who are being persecuted and now scattered throughout the Gentile nations, not to men that don’t know God. Their “neighbors” (fellow citizens) are now, literally and spiritually, men that they would have considered beneath them under the law worship.
We cannot seriously bless God while speaking evil of men that God has made in His image. The scripture teaches us that we know we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren (1Jn 3:14). Jesus said His brothers and sisters and mother were those who did the will of His Father in heaven (Mat 12:50). If Jesus is our Elder Brother, then our brothers and sisters are those that He claimed as His brothers and sisters. If we look at the whole of James’ instruction, he is still speaking to us about being a respecter of persons: we are still prone to looking on the outward appearance rather than what proceeds from the heart.
If we are not following Christ in our lives, then our tongues are leading us into hypocrisy. Blessing and cursing proceed out of the same mouth, and this should not happen. When I was a child, my great uncle had a spring (an issue of water from the earth) in his back yard. Some of the coolest, sweetest water I have ever tasted came from that spring. It was always cool and sweet because it issued from one source. The water was never brackish or unpleasant in any way.
Our tongues should always speak from one source, and this can only happen if we bridle our tongues with the mind of Christ. We cannot claim to love God and have no love for His creation. We cannot claim to be disciples of Jesus yet never walk like Him. If we must correct a brother or sister, the words need to ring with love even if the reproach is strong.
Many seem to see Jesus’ anger at the money changers in the temple as simply a display of wrath against the unrighteousness of men: I see a man moved by a deep well of love for His Father, His Father’s house, and the poor who had come to worship. Again, both bitter and sweet water do not spring from the same source. If there is no doubting the great, everlasting love of Jesus, then we cannot doubt that everything He did was motivated by that love.
Remember that the scripture has instructed us that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (Jas 1:8). A double-minded man is always going to have trouble with his tongue because he is not keeping it bridled. We cannot have the mind of Christ and be double minded.
May our Father give us grace to have the mind of Christ to direct our thoughts, so that our tongues may be bridled, and thereby turn the whole body to His service in love!