James 3

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JST James 3:1 strive not for the mastery, knowing that in so doing we shall receive the greater condemnation

"Far too many men seem to be afflicted with envy and strife, possessed as it were by a love of power...Many desire to lead; fewer are willing to follow in supportive roles that have no recognition attached. While teaching at one of the institutes of religion in the Church educational program, I noticed term after term that two classes were nearly full to capacity. One was Courtship and Marriage and the other was Leadership Training. Many wanted to train themselves for leadership; fewer wanted to study the scriptures or history and doctrine of the Church. Jokingly-but half-seriously-I suggested to the director that perhaps we ought to set up a class in 'suffering servantship' and see how many it would draw." (Arthur R. Bassett, "The Royal Law," Ensign, June 1976, 76)

James 3:2 If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body

Marion G. Romney
"This bridling of the whole body is a lofty objective. To reach it requires a real struggle, however. For notwithstanding the tongue is a small member of the body, it is very effective and it seldom wears out...(See James 3:2-8.)
"Although nearly two thousand years have passed, the evils against which James so forcefully, counseled are still with us; but they are no more consistent with the life of a Latter-day Saint than they were with the life of a former-day saint." ("Speak Kind Words," Ensign, Aug. 1977, 2)
Bruce R. McConkie
"The tongue is the mirror of the soul. Spoken words reveal the intents, desires, and feelings of the heart. We shall give an account before the judgment bar for every spoken word, and shall be condemned for our idle, intemperate, profane, and false words. (Matt. 12:34-37; Alma 12:14.) Implicit in this principle of judgment is the fact that we can control what we say. And what better test can there be of a godly self-control than the ability to tame the tongue!" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 263.)
Milton R. Hunter
"If it pays well to guard our lips, it pays just as well and even better to guard our thoughts, for every word that we speak is preceded by the thought. We, as Saints of the Most High, should accustom ourselves at all times to think such pure thoughts that if our minds and hearts were laid open before the world, nothing would appear which when brought to light would cause us to blush." (Conference Report, October 1946, Afternoon Meeting 42.)

James 3:3 we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body

Hugh B. Brown
"A middle-aged couple on the farm had a violent quarrel at breakfast time. Later in the day they started for town in the buggy with a fine team of horses to sell their vegetables and eggs. As the horses trotted along, Mary said, 'John, why can't we travel together like these horses do? They don't quarrel and fight.' John said, 'Mary, we could if there was only one tongue between us.'
"Oh, the unkind things we say to those we love.
'We have kind words for the stranger
And smiles for the sometime guest,
While oft to our own
The bitter tone,
Though we love our own the best!
(The Eternal Quest [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956], 310.)

James 3:5 the tongue...boasteth great things

Marvin J. Ashton
"We learn from James 3:5 that often 'the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.' No thinking Latter-day Saint will permit his comments, attitudes, or expressions to be construed as boasting in his own strength. Those who persist in boasting fail to recognize the true sources of personal achievement.
"History teaches us that those who boast in their own strength cannot have lasting success. Constantly we should be reminded that we must not boast of faith nor of mighty works, but instead should boast of God in his blessings and goodness to us. God will help us to understand that humility must be our foundation if the goodness of the Lord is to continue to come to and from us. The boasting man will certainly fall, because in his own strength no man endures." ("Neither Boast of Faith Nor of Mighty Works," Ensign, May 1990, 67)

James 3:5 Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth

Spencer W. Kimball
"Lies and gossip which harm reputations are scattered about by the four winds like the seeds of a ripe dandelion held aloft by a child. Neither the seeds nor the gossip can ever be gathered in. The degree and extent of the harm done by the gossip is inestimable." (The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 54)
Joseph Smith
"The tongue is an unruly member-hold your tongues about things of no moment, a little tale will set the world on fire." (The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980], 120 - 121.)
Joseph Smith
"I now counsel you, that if you know anything calculated to disturb the peace or injure the feelings of your brother or sister, hold your tongues, and the least harm will be done. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5:140)
Milton R. Hunter
"Throughout my life in mingling with many people of various religious denominations I have observed that as a rule it seems as if human beings like to gossip. We like to hear unsavory things about our neighbors and talk about each other. It seems that ofttimes we get a certain degree of satisfaction or even joy out of saying bad things about other people. We thoughtlessly and sometimes maliciously judge each other. We censure our associates sometimes unjustly, many times unkindly; and most of the time we speak without having the evidence to back up what we are saying. We seem to forget that James, the brother of the Lord, warned that the unbridled tongue is 'full of deadly poison.' (James 3:8.)
"I know that even sometimes people who are faithful in the Church pass judgment and condemnation on those with whom they associate without knowing the facts. Such is displeasing to God.
"I know that many people's hearts have been broken and tears have been shed because of the unkind and perhaps untrue things that have been said about them and because of unjust judgments that we give of each other.
"As I look into the faces of the members of this congregation, my conscience certainly tells me that I err at times. Sometimes I gossip and judge others, and when I do it I act unrighteously before the Lord. My heart tells me I would like to repent, I would like to overcome my weakness of gossiping and saying bad things about other people. I am sure that you feel the same as I do." (Conference Report, October 1960, Afternoon Meeting 24.)

James 3:6 the tongue is a fire...and it is set on fire of hell

Brigham Young
"If this unruly member is not held in subjection it will work our ruin, for 'The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity, so is the tongue among our members, and it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell.' If the tongue is unbridled and uncontrolled, it sets in motion all the elements of the devilish disposition engendered in man through the fall. The Apostle has represented it well, in comparing its influence to the fire of hell which will eventually consume the whole man." (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 9: 268.)

James 3:8 the tongue...is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison

Dallin H. Oaks
"Profane and vulgar expressions are public evidence of a speaker's ignorance, inadequacy, or immaturity.
"A speaker who profanes must be ignorant or indifferent to God's stern command that his name must be treated with reverence and not used in vain.
"A speaker who mouths profanity or vulgarity to punctuate or emphasize speech confesses inadequacy in his or her own language skills. Properly used, modern languages require no such artificial boosters.
"A speaker who employs profanity or vulgarity to catch someone's attention with shock effect engages in a babyish device that is inexcusable as juvenile or adult behavior. Such language is morally bankrupt. It also progressively self-defeating, since shock diminishes with familiarity and the user can only maintain its effect by escalating its excess.
"Members of the Church, young or old, should never allow profane or vulgar words to pass their lips. The language we use projects the images of our hearts, and our hearts should be pure. As the Savior taught:
'Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.' (Matt. 12:34-35.)
"The Book of Mormon teaches us that when we are brought before the judgment bar of God 'our words will condemn us ... and our thoughts will also condemn us.' (Alma 12:14.) Let us recognize profanity and vulgarity for what they are. They are sins that separate us from God and cripple our spiritual defenses by causing the Holy Ghost to withdraw from us." ("Reverent and Clean," Ensign, May 1986, 51-52)
Spencer W. Kimball
"Language is like music; we rejoice in beauty, range, and quality in both, and we are demeaned by the repetition of a few sour notes." ("President Kimball Speaks Out on Profanity," Ensign, Feb. 1981, 4)
Marvin J. Ashton
"When King David was pleading for mercy in the fifty-seventh Psalm, he cried: 'My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.' (Ps. 57:4.)
"In the world today we are victims of many who use their tongues as sharp swords. The misuse of our tongues seems to add intrigue and destruction as the media and private persons indulge in this pastime. In the vernacular of the day, this destructive activity is called bashing. The dictionary reports that to bash is to strike with a heavy, crushing blow.
"Such a popular behavior is indulged in by far too many who bash a neighbor, a family member, a public servant, a community, a country, a church. It is alarming also how often we find children bashing parents and parents bashing children.
"...the Savior reminds us that he who is without sin may cast the first stone. (See John 8:7.) Ugly reports and conversations are always available to those who would promote the sordid and sensational. None of us are yet perfect. We each have failings that aren't terribly difficult to detect-especially if that is the aim. Through microscopic examination one can find in almost every life incidents or traits that can be destructive when they are magnified.
"...None of us need one more person bashing or pointing out where we have failed or fallen short. Most of us are already well aware of the areas in which we are weak. What each of us does need is family, friends, employers, and brothers and sisters who support us, who have the patience to teach us, who believe in us, and who believe we're trying to do the best we can, in spite of our weaknesses. What ever happened to giving each other the benefit of the doubt? What ever happened to hoping that another person would succeed or achieve? What ever happened to rooting for each other?" ("The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword," Ensign, May 1992, 18)

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing

"President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, said in the October 1987 general conference: 'The habit . . . which young people fall into, of using vulgarity and profanity . . . is not only offensive to well-bred persons, but it is a gross sin in the sight of God, and should not exist among the children of the Latter-day Saints.'
"As a young seminary teacher, unnoticed, I observed during one of their practices some of the young student athletes I taught. The next day, as my students entered the classroom, the chalkboard had written upon it the words of some of the practice-field kind, as well as the words of the sacrament prayer and other sacred utterances and names. With some embarrassment, we turned to the words of James: 'Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.' (James 3:10.) The choices we make with our mouths are not determined by the setting in which we find ourselves, but by the thoughts we create within and by the type of people we are striving to become." (W. Sidney Young, Clean Speech Brings Blessings of Clean Thoughts and Behavior, LDS Church News, 1994, 12/31/94)
"How can heaven stand to hear the abuse that punctuates our speech? Offensive to God when spoken by anyone, profanity must be particularly grievous when uttered by Latter-day Saints. After all, we are uniquely authorized to invoke the Lord's name-we bear his name in special trust.
"For this reason, the Apostle James expressed deep dismay at the profanity of Church members in his day, protesting that with the tongue 'bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after similitude of God . ... My brethren,' he exclaims, 'these things ought not so to be.' (James 3:9-10.) Christians must not profane on Saturday the very name they invoke on Sunday to bless the sacrament, pray, preach, and worship.
"I often thought about James's counsel when I was an Aaronic Priesthood holder trying to resist the temptation to profane. The temptation to take the Lord's name in vain was powerful; all of my friends on the football team did it. But I was a priesthood holder. I knew that my prayer at the sacrament table would put the congregation under covenant. I could not-would not-dishonor the Lord.
"Since every priesthood holder has a special right to invoke the name of the Lord, he should be particularly concerned about how he takes the Master's name on his lips. Likewise, every member-man and woman, young and old alike-needs to use the Lord's name with care. Our spiritual power as members of his Church-indeed, our very salvation-depends on our reverence toward God. We simply must resist the tide of profanity." (John S. Tanner, "Sin-On the Tips of Our Tongues," Ensign, Feb. 1991, 32)

James 3:14 lie not against the truth

David O. McKay
"The man who is true to his manhood will not lie against the truth. We are told that we can crucify the Lord afresh. If that be true, we can betray the Lord afresh. There is that within every man which is divine, a divinity within every man's soul. It cannot die. God renews it, inspires it, works to keep it alive. The man who will be true to the divine within is true to his Lord, and is true to his fellowmen. The man who betrays that, the man who is untrue to that which he knows to be right, is wavering, is weakening. God pity him; he may go so far that he will step out of the light, out of that divine presence, and woe be unto him when he does; God help him!" (Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, compiled by Clare Middlemiss [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967], 273 - 274.)

James 3:16 where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work

Marvin J. Ashton
"Be one who nurtures and who builds. Be one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them. Be fair with your competitors, whether in business, athletics, or elsewhere. Don't get drawn into some of the parlance of our day and try to 'win' by intimidation or by undermining someone's character. Lend a hand to those who are frightened, lonely, or burdened.
"If we could look into each other's hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.
"If the adversary can influence us to pick on each other, to find fault, bash, and undermine, to judge or humiliate or taunt, half his battle is won. Why? Because though this sort of conduct may not equate with succumbing to grievous sin, it nevertheless neutralizes us spiritually. The Spirit of the Lord cannot dwell where there is bickering, judging, contention, or any kind of bashing." ("The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword," Ensign, May 1992, 20)