WEEK 2/Chapter 3 – The Book of James ~ A Bible Study for Families
(from The Message Translation)
By Allison T. Cain
Just in case you missed the past few weeks (Chapter 1 & 2) go back and start there – – – – Just a reminder: I have written this study using The Message translation to make it easier for children to comprehend. However, as you go along please read the text from your favorite and more traditional translation (we like the NIV). You can break this up by chapter or by verses. Do whatever is best for you and your family. I pray the lessons in the book of James will be absorbed in all of our hearts as we study it together.
Chapter 3 – When You Open Your Mouth
1-2 Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.
James lists two reasons we should be slow to teach others. What are they?
Is anyone perfectly qualified to teach?
Do you ever feel like you need to be perfect? When and Why?
How does it feel when you succeed at something? How about when you fail?
Now consider how God adores and loves you no matter how many times you mess up, make the wrong decision or fail. How big does His love feel?
3-5 A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!
In verses 3-5 James uses two examples of small things that control larger things. What are those two large things? What controls these large objects?
5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
He explains that our words can seem small and insignificant but can cause destruction. How do you think words cause destruction?
Has someone ever used words to hurt you? When?
7-10 This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
What is scary to James (v.10)?
What two things does He tell us can come out of our mouths? C___________ and B_____________
10-12 My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?
We could turn verses 10-12 into a list of things that don’t go together. For example:
Fresh water ≠ salty water
apple trees ≠ strawberries
What are the other two things that don’t equal each other?
James is trying to tell us that a mouth that curses doesn’t equal a mouth that praises God anymore than an apple tree produces strawberries. We need to pick one. Should a Christian choose to have a mouth that curses or blesses others?
It’s can’t be both. This can be hard to do, but God can give us the strength we need to control our tongues.
Live Well, Live Wisely
13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.
What do you think it means to be wise?
In your life, who do you consider to be wise? Do you think wisdom makes this person a good one to ask advice?
What does James tell us we need to do to build a reputation of being wise?
Live __________, Live ____________, and Live _____________
What counts? What you say or what you do?
James lists several things that don’t show wisdom. Make a list of those things and circle the quality that you struggle with the most.
Then, write out a prayer asking God to help you overcome this and live more wisely.
17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
In these verses, James lists the qualities of wisdom. Make a list of those qualities.
What takes hard work (v.18)? Do you have a hard time with this or does it come easily to you?