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Our Hearts Overflow into Our Words

James 3:1-12


Read James 3:1

  • Why do you think James has a special warning for teachers? [1]

Read James 3:2-12

Look at the metaphors James uses to describe the tongue. Examine each one, and describe what aspect of our words is drawn out by using this metaphor:

  • a bit in a horse's mouth

  • a rudder on a ship

  • a spark that lights a bushfire

  • a wild and poisonous animal


  • Have you ever had a moment where you say something, and as soon as the words leave your mouth, you regret it? Share your stories with one another.

  • Have you ever had a moment when someone said something that changed the course of your life (for better, or for worse)? Share your stories with one another.


In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he describes the difference between the old life (or old self) and new life (or new self):

Read Ephesians 4:21-5:20

As you read, underline or take note of every time words or speaking is mentioned.

  • What sort of speaking is related to the old self and old life?

  • What sort of speaking is in keeping with the new self we now have in Christ?

  • How well do we measure up to this standard?


Read James 1:19-21, James 1:26 & Luke 6:43-45

  • How do these words from James and Jesus relate to James 3:1-12?

  • What should we do with the almost impossible task of "taming the tongue"? Where does the work need to take place?

  • Spend some time in prayer, that God would work in our hearts by his Spirit to bring about the inner-transformation needed to change our words.


  • Write down some encouraging, life-giving words to speak to someone else in your connect group, or someone else in your life. Speak those words out to them out loud (or if you’re really too shy, share your words in writing!)



[1] Douglas Moo writes,

Somewhat comparable to the Jewish rabbi, the teacher in the early church was entrusted with the crucial task of transmitting Christian doctrine (see 2 Tim. 2:2). A certain authority and prestige naturally adhered to the teaching ministry. Particularly was this so in a society where few people could read and where people in the lower classes had few opportunities for advancement in status. It is not surprising, then, that Christians were attracted to the teaching ministry. Concern about believers flocking to this ministry for the wrong reasons probably lies behind James’ warning: Let not many of you become teachers.

Douglas J. Moo, Tyndale Commentary Vol 16: James, p124.

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