settings icon
share icon

What does it mean that blessing and cursing should not come from the same mouth (James 3:10)?

same mouth blessing and cursing

In James 3:10, the apostle highlights the contradictory nature of the tongue. He says, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (ESV). James is presenting a case for why believers should only use their tongues to “bless our Lord and Father” rather than “curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (verse 9).

The tongue is difficult to tame, even for believers. James says, “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” (James 3:1, ESV). We stumble or sin with our words because we are not perfect. Regardless of imperfection, we should strive to imitate Christ in thought, word, and deed: “Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1–2, ESV).

James condemns the incongruity of using the same tongue for both blessing and cursing. In church or in prayer, we open our mouths in praise to God, but later we malign those who cross us—James says, “This should not be” (James 3:10). Many ideas in James find a correspondence in the book of Proverbs, including using the tongue for blessing and cursing: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21, ESV). If we are not careful, we can do great damage with our words. David also had to deal with people who “take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse” (Psalm 62:4).

In the same context of blessing and cursing, James calls the tongue “a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8, ESV). The tongue is evil and deadly when it is not being used as it should be. The tongue should only be used to “bless our Lord and Father” (verse 9). Instead, we use it to bless the Lord and “curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (ESV). How can this be? How can we bless, praise, and worship God one moment, and then turn around and speak ill of our brothers and sisters in Christ? This happens because we forget that people are made in the likeness of God. The image of God, then, provides the moral ground for proper use of the tongue.

Satan loves to create division and hear people cursing other people. We must not give him a foothold (Ephesians 4:27). Instead of allowing Satan to control our tongues, we should submit ourselves to the Lord and ensure that our speech will “always be gracious, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6, ESV). Genuine believers are marked by gracious speech.

Matthew Henry’s comment on James 3:10 is still pertinent 300 years after he wrote it: “True religion will not admit of contradictions: how many sins would be prevented, if men would always be consistent! Pious and edifying language is the genuine produce of a sanctified heart; and none who understand Christianity, expect to hear curses, lies, boastings, and revilings from a true believer’s mouth, any more than they look for the fruit of one tree from another” (Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible).

Return to:

Questions about James

What does it mean that blessing and cursing should not come from the same mouth (James 3:10)?
Subscribe to the

Question of the Week

Get our Question of the Week delivered right to your inbox!

Follow Us: Facebook icon Twitter icon YouTube icon Pinterest icon Instagram icon
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy
This page last updated: May 8, 2024