We ALL Stumble – James 3:2

We ALL Stumble – James 3:2

2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” (James 3:2)

Stumble. Trip. Not necessarily to fall, and especially not ‘fall away’ (although it can be a dangerous beginning to such a journey!). Elders? Preachers? You? Yes, we ALL stumble, particularly in our speech.

It is always interesting to find out what people remember you saying! As a preacher I find that it usually a side comment in a lesson. Or it is an unguarded word said in the excitement of the moment. It is always refreshing to the spirit when such was a GOOD example that was enlightening and encouraging to the hearer. However, at times it is painful to learn that you have again opened your mouth without engaging the brain.

First, it is easy to use this verse to excuse ourselves: well, we all do it….   BUT we ALL are supposed to NOT do it! Earlier, James said that the controlling of our tongue is a measure of our spiritual maturity and true religious character: “26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.” (James 1:26) Yes, it is difficult. No, none of us ever completely masters this. Yet, each of us must give diligent effort at controlling what we say (and HOW we say it).

One of the major problems is that once spoken the words can never be taken back. You can apologize but you can not undo the hurt and feelings that you have brought about. With much work, you can repair the relationship, but it does take much work! If you have betrayed the trust of a relationship it is even more difficult to repair – especially in a marriage.

Today we live in an age where we can freely influence a far greater number of people with our words. Anyone can start a webpage and write. Anyone can start a video blog on YouTube. Anyone can get on Facebook or twitter and be heard. The result has not been for the betterment of our world!

Along with James, notice Paul’s admonitions:

29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)

4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5:4)

8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.” (Colossians 3:8)

How good is your bridle? 

Hugh DeLong