James 1:26-27 – “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” NASU
I have known Christians through the years, including preachers, who proudly declare “I always tell it like it is.” Frequently that was a justification for blasting everything they did not like or agree with and sometimes a rationale for being self-appointed fruit inspectors and protectors of truth. I suspect that God both laughs at that and frowns deeply. He laughs at the idea that anyone could presume to know all truth and have such moral superiority they could judge others and frown because of those things.
The words of James have long been a deterrent for me in ‘shooting off my mouth’ and ‘speaking my mind’ without discretion. It has not always succeeded but has worked more than not to cause me to ‘zip my lip’ when I would like to ‘give a piece of my mind.’ I heard a preacher as a parishioner who told him, “I would like to give you a piece of my mind.” He said, “I suggest you refrain from doing so, I’m not sure you can spare any of it.” It was not well received initially but after a few minutes, they both burst into laughter. James takes us to task about our perception of our religious or spiritual stature. He plainly states, that IF we have a lofty view of ourselves spiritually or religiously but do not or cannot ‘bridle our tongues’ we are living in self-deception. That would be bad enough but he continues saying, “This man’s religion is worthless.” WHOA! That is an incredibly strong statement.
Proverbs 18:21 instructs that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” In 1 Peter 3:10 we read, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.” In Ephesians 4:29 we find, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” In Proverbs 12:18, “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.” In Proverbs 15:14, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.” In Proverbs 13:3, “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”
The tongue, James 3 describes as being small but incredibly powerful and capable of doing incredible damage or good. We want our words to be springs of life that encourage and inspire. We want our words to be uplifting, filled with grace and hope. We want our words to glorify God not do damage and harm. We do not want our tongues to be like a match in a dry forest. We do not want our tongues to be sharp swords of harm but able to be the fruit of righteousness.
I suggest that each of us should ask the Holy Spirit to set a guard at our lips and weigh our words before uttering them. Let’s be voices of Hope. God, bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in December in Jesus!