James 3:9

Thursday, 1 August 2019

With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. James 3:9

James, having just spoken about man’s inability to tame the tongue, goes on to write, “With it we bless our God and Father.” Some manuscripts say, “Lord and Father.” If the rendering is “Lord,” there is already a precedent for calling Him “Father” in Isaiah 9:6. If “God” is correct, it is speaking of God as Father, not God the Father. Whichever is correct, the intent of the words is obvious. We praise our Creator with our tongues.

This is the purpose of man. It is to glorify God with every fiber of our substance, including with our tongues. He is worthy of it, and it is right and fitting that we do so. And yet, at the same time, James continues with, “and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.”

Rather than “who,” the translation would be better stated as, “which have been made in the similitude of God.” It is not that some men have been so made and others have not. Even the most fallen and depraved men bear God’s image. As this is so, James is calling out the logical contradiction which arises in blessing God and then in cursing those made in His image.

The scholar Bengel notes that even though Absalom fell from his father’s favor, he remained the king’s son. That never changed. The same is true with man. Though we have fallen from God’s favor, the image of God in man has not been erased. Therefore, we should not curse man and presume to turn around and bless God. Instead, we should bless. It is a hard thing to do at times, but it is what James logically calls for. And which he will continue to confirm in the next verse.

Life application: James’ thought goes back to the first page of the Bible –

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27

The very next words in the Genesis account are, “Then God blessed them…” Man is God’s image-bearer and has been blessed by God; therefore, we show disrespect to God when we curse others, whom He has blessed.

Any curses on man are at God’s prerogative – violations of His law, for example. But for us to flippantly curse our leaders because we disagree with them, our supervisors because they are overbearing, our neighbors because we are tired of them, or any others for whatever reason, we only bring discredit upon ourselves.

Instead of curses, let us shower our enemies with blessing. This is what Jesus expects of us in Luke 6:28 and is what Paul repeats in Romans 12:14. Bless, and do not curse.

Lord God, in Your word, a tough challenge has been placed before us. We are asked to bless others because they bear Your image. Even if our mouths don’t curse others, our hearts often do. And sometimes it wells up and comes out of our mouths. Give our hearts a hefty cleansing and take away the evil thoughts they produce towards others. May our mouths reflect pure hearts, and may we shower others with blessings. Amen.

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