Sermon on James 3:2-12 | A Bridle for My Tongue

horse and bridle

A Bridle for My Tongue (James 3:2-12)

The tongue can be both the best and worst part of a person. Psalm 141:3.

James says some things about the tongue that we need to understand.

My Tongue Makes Many Mistakes, v 2

We all make mistakes.

If one makes no mistakes in speaking, he is:

  • Perfect. Perfect here means spiritually mature. How we use our tongue is indicative of our spirituality.
  • Able to keep the whole body in check. If I can master my tongue, there is nothing else I can’t master.

Few can do this.

My Tongue is Mighty, vv 3-5


  • A bridle governs a horse.
  • A rudder governs a ship. Ships are large and driven by large winds. Yet, they are controlled by a small rudder.
  • A spark can cause a great fire-e.g., the Chicago fire.

The tongue is small-it’s not that large of a body part.

Yet, the tongue boasts of great things-much damage can be caused by the tongue.

The tongue is powerful. Husbands, if you don’t believe me, go home and tell your wife how badly she cooks, how ugly she is, and how much you regret marrying her. Because the tongue is powerful, we need to be careful how we use it.

My Tongue Isn’t Easily Mastered, vv 6-8

The tongue is destructive.

  • It is a fire. Just as fires can cause great damage, so can the tongue. “Brightest links of life are broken by a single angry word.”
  • It is a world of iniquity-much sin is caused by the tongue.
  • It stains the whole body. It does so in two ways: Few things cause one to lose respect more quickly than failure to bridle the tongue, and the mouth is a window of the heart (Lk 6:43-45).
  • It sets on fire the course of nature. “Course of nature” means “wheel of birth.” The point is that the tongue causes one problems all through life.
  • It is set on fire by hell-the tongue is so destructive its force could only come from hell.

The tongue can’t be controlled. We can tame wild animals. But we can’t tame our tongue. This doesn’t mean that we’re not responsible when our tongue gets out of control. It simply means that our tongue is difficult to control.

The tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. An unruly evil means the tongue is like a wild animal attempting to throw off all restraint. Full of deadly poison speaks of how the tongue can kill. The tongue can kill hopes and aspirations. The tongue can kill friendships and marriages. “A wound from a tongue is worse than a wound from a sword; the latter affects only the body-the former the soul, the spirit.”

My Tongue is a Monistic Tongue, vv 9-12

James mentions the ways we can use our tongues: We can bless God with our tongues, or we can curse man with our tongue. Man is made in the likeness of God. Therefore, cursing man is cursing God. We cannot allow blessing and cursing to come from the same mouth.


  • Springs bring forth one kind of water.
  • Trees bring forth one kind of fruit.
  • Salt water brings forth salt water.


There are so many good uses for the tongue. We can build others up. We can share the Gospel.

We can also use our tongue to achieve salvation. Romans 10:9-10. We want to give you that opportunity now.

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.

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