1 Not many of you should be teachers, my brothers, because you [should] know that we [teachers] will be judged more strictly. 2 For we all make mistakes in many areas [of life]. If anyone does not make a mistake in what he says, he is a perfect person, capable of keeping a tight rein on his whole life also.
3 Now if we put bits in the mouths of horses so that they will obey us, we can govern the direction of their entire bodies as well. 4 Look, even though ships are huge and are driven by strong winds, still their direction can be governed by a very small rudder, wherever the pilot desires to sail. 5 So, the tongue is a small part [of the body], yet it boasts of great accomplishments. Look at how large a forest is burned up by even a tiny spark. 6 And the tongue is [like] a fire [i.e., like that spark]. [For] the tongue, as a part of the body, is [like] the world of evil. It corrupts the entire life [of a person] and inflames the course of nature itself [i.e., it affects a person throughout his whole earthly existence], and is ignited by hell itself [i.e., the evil produced by the fiery tongue has hell as its source and destiny].
7 For all kinds of animals and birds and reptiles and ocean creatures are being subdued and have been subdued by mankind, 8 but no one can subdue the tongue. It is an uncontrollable [source of] evil and full of deadly poison. 9 We praise the Lord and Father with it, and [also] curse men who are created in God's likeness with it. 10 Praise and cursing come out of the same mouth! My brothers, these things should not be happening. 11 Does a spring produce [both] fresh water and salt water from the same opening? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree produce olives or a grapevine [produce] figs? Neither can a salt water [spring] produce fresh water.
13 Who [then] is the wise and understanding person among you? He should show by his good conduct [that he has] deeds of gentleness [stemming] from wisdom. 14 But if you people have bitter jealousy and rivalry in your hearts, do not be arrogant [over it] and deny the truth. 15 This "wisdom" is not the kind that comes from [God] above, but is earthly, unspiritual and demonic [i.e., it is motivated by an evil spirit and not the Holy Spirit]. 16 For when jealousy and rivalry exist, there is [also] disorder and every [kind of] evil practice. 17 But the [true] wisdom, which is from [God] above, is first of all pure, then peace-loving, patient and easily persuaded. [It is] full of mercy and produces a crop of good deeds; [it is] impartial [or, unwavering] and sincere. 18 [People who are] peacemakers sow [seeds of] peace and it produces a crop of righteousness [in the lives of others].