A comment was made that there is a little Dr. Phil in this chapter because it's all about how we communicate with one another. There's healthy conversation and there's unhealthy conversation and it all has to do with the tongue.
The sobering verses in this chapter are 5 & 6 - "So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!" The Message translation by Eugene Peterson which we use for our bible study uses the phrase, "It only takes a spark..." That little phrase, while used negatively here, reminds me of the hymn, "Pass It On" which uses that same phrase positively - "It only takes a spark to get a fire going but soon all those around will warm up to its glowing. That's how it is with God's love..."
We don't have to think long and hard to come up with recent and personal examples of when we have heard someone say something in a hurtful way toward another person, even to a sister or brother in Christ! Sometimes, those words have from from our own mouths. Lord, have mercy.
Because of the frequency of how people say hurtful things, is there any chapter in the bible more relevant than James chapter 3? "...the tongue...a restless evil, full of deadly poison." (v. 8)
This is why the opening of the chapter cautions Christians to think long and hard before accepting a leadership position in the church. James is saying, you need to a be a person of tremendous discipline if you expect to tame the tongue when speaking to other people. We each have the choice to either build up others and the church or tear it down.
Let's build it up.
Next week, we'll focus on the 2nd to last chapter of the Epistle, chapter 4.