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.

8 thoughts on “James 3:9

  • Thursday, August 1st, 2019 at 7:35 am

    I don’t get it. So people who knowingly are ruining other people by using their power,and causing all kinds of hurt, we may not ask for God to turn it back on them?? Help me out here please.

  • Thursday, August 1st, 2019 at 7:45 am

    What about the imprecatory psalms of David. It seems as though he is not blessing his enemies. Regardless, are we as new covenant people to not copy the psalmist , and only bless our enemies?
    Galatians 5:12 gives example, saying “I would that they were cut off which trouble you”.

    • Thursday, August 1st, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      This is true. James is certainly speaking about what He desires for us in regards to fellowship. When someone is an enemy of God, we can bless them and still ask God to accomplish His task (vengeance is mine says the Lord). If we bless them and they accept it, bonus. If we do and they continue to be belligerent, then the Lord will take care of it. I can see blessing someone and still saying, “Lord, take out Your anger on them,” without any contradiction at all. But blessing some people is really, really difficult. I struggle with it. Case in point – our previous president.

  • Thursday, August 1st, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Hi John,
    I admire your honesty because I often feel this way. I even gave a chuckle on reading your candid cry for help. As the prayer said today ‘it is a tough challenge’. I also wonder why the Holy Spirit has included the imprecatory psalms in the pages of holy writ. Is to tell us what we should not do? It seems to me that David got results and answers to his prayers. I often hear preachers say we are not supposed to pray like that because we are under the New Covenant, so we follow the teachings of the New Covenant as outlined by the Apostle Paul. As the teaching said today ‘any curses on man are at God’s prerogative’. So I don’t think we have the permission from God to curse any of his image bearers.
    I also hear people in my church praying for God to heal people of cancer and they say “I curse this cancer in the name of Jesus’. I don’t believe we can do this also. But what I do, is ask God to change them or move them, open their eyes to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, and I leave those who hurt me in God’s hand. I cannot honestly say that I bless them. But I have seen God avenge me, when I leave it up to Him. When I get involved I just make matters worse.
    As to the verse you quoted from Galatians, I have no explanation. Perhaps Pastor Charlie can jump in on this one and be the referee today. I too am interested in the interpretation and contextual alignment of this verse with today’s conversation.

    • Thursday, August 1st, 2019 at 7:23 pm

      You are right Ruth. The Psalms, though in the Old Testament, are wisdom literature. They apply at all times. Your answer is wise. I answered John above also in a similar fashion. Gal 5 fits into this. Paul, in Romans 9-11 is distraught over his Jewish brethren, even to wishing himself cut off so that they could be saved, and at the same time he says what he says in Gal 5. It is a fine line, but we can let the Lord take the vengeance. If it were up to me, I would push the “dissolve them all now and have a perfect world” button. But it isn’t up to me.

  • Friday, August 2nd, 2019 at 12:31 am

    Praise always belongs to God even when we suffer at the hands of others. Could it be that the extra burden of cruelty applied to Christians results in even more pervasive praise and reliance on God. While our country was drifting from God, evil was rising, our people suffering … but our hearts knew to look to the LORD to come save us. Hosanna. Shouldn’t we thank God for our enemies when our hearts cling to our LORD. Shouldn’t we, with privilege, pray for our enemies’ redemption so that we may continue to live in peace. Our real enemy is Satan and he has come to steal, lie, and trick whomever he can.
    Remember Elijah and how he overcame such great evil (the tricksters) and then fled for his life. But then witnessed the glory of God from the cleft of the rock…a mighty wind, earthquake, fire, and the voice was heard after in the breeze. May God bless us all as simple as we are, by standing with us during those challenging times. Directing and allowing us to hear his voice. We are very undeserving to have such a king of a man in Jesus.

  • Friday, August 2nd, 2019 at 10:46 am



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