“If the pen is mightier than the sword, it is equally true that we can kill an man as easily with the words we use as with a physical weapon (Matt. 5:21-22).
Of course, all this is naturally true of the unregenerate man. The tradegy is–and it is this tragedy that surely concerns James here–that the s ame destructive powers may be released within the believing community.
I sometimes wonder if this is a distinctively evangelical sin. Of course it is by no means exclusively so. But how common place it seems to be to hear a fellow Christian’s name mentioned in some context or other, and the first words of response demean his reputation, belittle him, and distance him from acceptance unto the fellowship, although this is a brother for whom Christ died!
The saintly Robert Murray M’Cheyne was surely nearer the mark when he resolved that when a fellow Christian’s name was mentioned in company, if he could not say anything good about him, he would refrain from all speech about him. Better that, surely, than to be careless with fire and “destroy a brother for whoom Christ died” (Rom. 14:15; 1 Cor. 8:11).
Taken from Sinclair’s Ferguson’s “The Power Of Words and the Wonder of God” from Ferguson’s chapter titled “The Bit, the Bridle, and the Blessing: An Exposition of James 3:1-12, pages 51-52.