Restraining the Tongue

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless (James 1:26).

What would you think of a person like this: They sit in the front row at church every week and take notes when the sermon is preached. They serve at the local homeless shelter once a week. They always attend their mid-week small group and they never fail to give sacrificially to the church. Oh, and one more thing, whenever they talk to people at church, it’s usually gossip about someone that is either untrue or exaggerated.

What would you think about that person?

James knows what he thinks about that person and it’s clear in this verse that he has some strong words for that person. In essence, he says that this person’s religious practices mean nothing because their mouth is completely out of control. He is saying that it doesn’t matter how spiritually busy you are, if your mouth is constantly cutting people down it shows that you don’t really understand the faith that you say you believe. How we use our words is one of the number one ways to show Christian maturity. Much of the Bible speaks to this.
Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). That means that who you truly are inside will come out in the way you speak. James is simply saying a similar thing here and calling God’s people to repent of careless words that hurt others.

Read Ephesians 4:29
• What kind of talk should not come out of our mouths?
• What kind of talk should come out of our mouths?

Our Father, help us to guard our mouths. May we use our words to bless and not to curse. May we use our words to encourage and not discourage. May we use our words to give life and not death. May we use our words to minister to people’s needs and not load them down with burdens. We need your help. Please help us live this way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.