James understands the power of words. He knows that such a small (micro) thing as the mouth can have mega-effects (megala) vastly disproportionate to its size.
New Testament scholar Scot McKnight writes, "Hell inspires the abusive tongue." (McKnight, James, 286) Words that tear down rather than build up, words of hatred rather than love, words showing favoritism of one person over another, all rise out of a heart in touch with hell.
Why such strong language? After all, doesn't the old proverb apply here? "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me." To the contrary, "Far easier to heal are the wounds caused by sticks and stones than the damage caused by words." (Moo, in McKnight, James, 286)
James ramps up the intensity when he writes: "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness."