“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.” – James 1:26
In my seminary days, one of my fellow seminary students and a good friend stood at the door. He was looking kind of pale. He said, “Bryant, I think I’ve blown it.” Now, he was one of us that had a little country church where we would go on the weekends and pastor; then we’d be full time seminary students during the week. And very often, we got to conduct our first funeral or conduct our first wedding. It was a learning process. Well, this friend of mine had had his first funeral. The wife of an active man in the church had suddenly passed away. So he met with the man at the funeral home. The man said, “Come. Come. I want you to join me by the casket of my wife.” And they were standing there looking at his wife there in the casket and the man said, “Doesn’t she look beautiful?” And my bonehead friend said, “Well, I’ve seen her look better.” He said, “Bryant, I’m not sure I’m going to make it in the ministry.” He is a CPA today. Now, that story is amusing, but more often than not, we need to tame our tongues for very different reasons.
Sometimes we say something so quickly without thinking. And we say something so stupid and so embarrassing that we would do everything in our power to just pull the words back in, but they cannot be retrieved. They’re forever there. And what is even more convicting is the things that we say that are cruel or hurtful, gossip and slander. We can say a lot of harsh things and the moment we say it we instantly know we have messed up mighty badly.
Look at today’s verse again. If anyone thinks himself to be a Christian, and doesn’t learn to bridle his tongue, he is living a lie and his faith is worthless. You can’t find a stronger word of conviction to all of us in taming the tongue. All of us say some things that we deeply regret that we wish we could bring back. It’s a serious offense in God’s eyes. So, let’s make it serious in our eyes, in our hearts and in the words that come out of our mouths.