Teachers need to be careful and teach properly
1-2 My Christian friends, don’t all of you try to be teachers of God’s word. Only the right people can do that. You see, God will judge us all, and if you teach people something that is wrong, God might punish you a lot. It is like this, all of us make mistakes, and we get trouble from those mistakes. But if we teach people, and if we make a mistake so that we teach them something that is wrong, we will get really big trouble from that. It is hard for us to control our tongues so that we say everything properly. If you can control your tongue, you are properly good, and you can control all of your body.
Think about the people that ride horses. They put a little bit of iron in the horse’s mouth, and they tie ropes to it, then they use that bit of iron to turn the whole horse around, and they steer it wherever they want it to go. And think about ships. They are like that too. A ship is very big, but its driver can use the little rudder at the back to steer it around. Even if strong winds want to blow it one way, that driver can steer it another way using that little rudder. Well, those are pictures of our tongues. Our tongues are only little, like that bit of iron and that little rudder. Yes, our tongues are little, but if we use them to talk up big and tell people that we are really good, they will do a lot of damage.
Think about fire. A very little spark can start a fire, and then it can burn up a lot of bush. In the same way each of us has a little tongue, and it is like a little spark of fire inside us. It can say really bad things, and tell lies, and then that can make the rest of our bodies bad. Our tongues can make everything in our lives go wrong, like a spark of fire can make a big bush fire. The devil, the boss over the bad spirits from hell, he makes us say those bad things. It is like he uses our tongues to start that fire, and it grows like a bush fire, and it gets us into a lot of trouble. People can control all sorts of wild animals, and birds, and snakes, and fish. They can make them quiet and train them to do whatever their boss wants them to do. But nobody can control their own tongue properly. It is always saying bad things and hurting people, like it has poison in it, just like a cheeky snake.
Sometimes we use our tongue to tell God that he is our good father, and sometimes we use it to swear at people. But remember, God made people to be like himself.* 10 Both good things and bad things come out of our mouths. But, my Christian friends, that’s not right. 11-12 Do you ever find fresh water and salt water coming from the same water-hole? No, it is never like that. And you never find 2 sorts of fruit on one tree. So our mouths shouldn’t say 2 sorts of things. We shouldn’t say good things and bad things with the same mouth.
Think God’s way, not the devil’s way
13 Do you reckon that you can think properly, and do you reckon that you know if something is right or wrong? If you do, you have to show everybody that you think properly by quietly doing good things for other people. If you do those good things, and if you don’t tell anybody about it, you are thinking properly. 14-15 But if you only think about things that are good for yourself, and if you are jealous of other people, and if you hate other people, you are not thinking God’s way. That’s the devil’s way. He is the boss over the bad spirits. You can’t hide the way you think by telling lies about it, and by saying that you are really good. 16 You see, sometimes people get jealous of each other, and sometimes they only do things to make themselves happy, and they don’t think about anyone else. Whenever that happens, those people start fighting each other, and they get into all sorts of trouble.
17 But whenever we think God’s way, we are like this,
– We keep away from doing anything bad.
– We want to make other people happy, and we want to help them to be friends with each other.
– We are easy on other people, not hard.
– We listen to people and let them get a fair go.
– We feel sorry for people that have problems, and we do everything we can to help them.
– We are fair to everybody. We don’t treat some people good and other people like they are rubbish.
– We don’t pretend that we are better than we really are.
18 Whenever somebody teaches people to live the right way, like that, those other people stop fighting each other, and they start to be good to each other.
* 3:9 Genesis 1:26