Blessings and Curses

Passage for Today

James 3:1-12

1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.


  1. Based on the previous passage about the dangers of our tongue, why are teachers held in higher judgment?
  2. Again why is the tongue so dangerous?
  3. What can you do this week to bring life to someone through your words?


By Lifeway

Many people misunderstand the biblical concept of cursing. When the Bible condemns cursing, it’s not addressing profanity. So-called bad words may be offensive and inappropriate, but a type of crude language goes beyond rude:  Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4

While crudeness may not appear on the surface to be as hateful as cursing, the root is similar. The “filthiness” and “crude joking” Paul referred to are derogatory, sexually explicit comments that disrespect other people made in the image of God.

The key to understanding what Scripture condemns as cursing is clearly stated in James 3:9. Cursing is a verbal attack, hatred, a violence of heart toward people who bear the image of our Creator. It’s a deification of ourselves and a dehumanization of someone else, elevating ourselves to a judge by damning another person. The sin isn’t a rude word but hatred for another human being created in the likeness of God. Ultimately, it’s contempt for God.

Likewise, crude and filthy speech, even in the form of jokes, dehumanizes and objectifies other men or women, viewing them as commodities to be used, consumed, and discarded. Cursing and crudeness deny God’s likeness in human beings.

*  This devotion was found at titled “James: Faith/Works” by Lifeway.

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