by Marilynn Chadwick If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, his religion is useless, and he deceives himself (James 1:26 CSB). I love words. Words allow us to connect with each other—and with God. But I've seen the damage words can do to individuals, families, churches, even nations. James warns us to use our words wisely. He gives us a sober reflection on the dangers of the tongue. I may think I am walking out my faith well. But James warns that if I don't watch my words, I'm in trouble. The exact translation of this verse from the original Greek reads like this: “If someone thinks that he is religious, yet does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26 MOUNCE). Notice the translator adds a twist: If I don't "bridle” my tongue, then I actually deceive my own heart. What's more, my religion, James says, is worthless. The word translated worthless conveys "purposelessness or futility." My faith is futile. Ouch. Words prove what's in our heart. Jesus said it this way: "A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart" (Luke 6:45 NLT). Sometimes, I speak before I think. I need to grow in the area of governing my speech. Maybe you, too, struggle with your words. Bridling my tongue goes deeper than just my words. Jesus reminds me it's a heart issue. The message of James is straightforward. If I keep my heart clean, my words will take care of themselves. Lord, put a watch over the door to my lips. Catch me before I speak words that wound. Fill my heart so full of your love that my words will bring life to those around me. Make me sensitive to your voice and receptive to your Word. Daily.
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