James 3 International Children’s Bible (ICB)
Controlling the Things We Say
3 My brothers, not many of you should become teachers. You know that we who teach will be judged more strictly than others. 2 We all make many mistakes. If there were a person who never said anything wrong, he would be perfect. He would be able to control his whole body, too. 3 We put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us. We can control their whole bodies. 4 It is the same with ships. A ship is very big, and it is pushed by strong winds. But a very small rudder controls that big ship. The man who controls the rudder decides where the ship will go. The ship goes where the man wants. 5 It is the same with the tongue. It is a small part of the body, but it brags about doing great things.
A big forest fire can be started with only a little flame. 6 And the tongue is like a fire. It is a whole world of evil among the parts of our bodies. The tongue spreads its evil through the whole body. It starts a fire that influences all of life. The tongue gets this fire from hell. 7 People can tame every kind of wild animal, bird, reptile, and fish, and they have tamed them. 8 But no one can tame the tongue. It is wild and evil. It is full of poison that can kill. 9 We use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but then we curse people. And God made them like himself. 10 Praises and curses come from the same mouth! My brothers, this should not happen. 11 Do good and bad water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree make olives? Can a grapevine make figs? No! And a well full of salty water cannot give good water.
13 Is there anyone among you who is truly wise and understanding? Then he should show his wisdom by living right. He should do good things without being proud. A wise person does not brag. 14 But if you are selfish and have bitter jealousy in your hearts, you have no reason to brag. Your bragging is a lie that hides the truth. 15 That kind of “wisdom” does not come from God. That “wisdom” comes from the world. It is not spiritual. It is from the devil. 16 Where there is jealousy and selfishness, there will be confusion and every kind of evil. 17 But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. Then it is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help those who are troubled and to do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. 18 When people work for peace in a peaceful way, they receive the good result of their right living.
James 3 New International Version (NIV)
Taming the Tongue
3 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Two Kinds of Wisdom
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.