Together in Christ: 'Worthless Religion!' — James 1:26

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.
— James 1:26 NLT

Key Thought

The Holy Spirit reminds us in the Scriptures that controlling our tongue is not easy. [1] Our speech betrays the secret crevices of our hearts that we still struggle to bring under the Lordship of Jesus. [2] Those secret and not yet fully yielded places in our hearts make our verse today a chilling one. So, let's deal with one reality of this passage first.

I am addressing the habitual and unrepentant misuser of speech — whether written or spoken aloud, done secretly or openly. [3] Many of us will stumble occasionally and misuse our words in coarse speech, gossip, abusive language, and sarcastic digs. When we do stumble in one of these ways, we can apologize to that person, others who heard us, [4] ask for their forgiveness. [5] However, profanity and using the Lord's name in vain are sins against God. The Scriptures are clear; we must never use God's name in vain or with words of condemnation aimed at someone else. [6]

If we struggle with our speech, we must not dismiss this sinful weakness as insignificant. Words can be powerfully destructive when we use them against another person. We must not underestimate the violent impact and lasting damage hateful speech can do. I don't know about you, but I do not want my worship and love for God to be worthless. I want to use my words to bless, build up, and heal!

[1] James 3:7-12.
[2] Proverbs 28:13; Matthew 12:35-37.
[3] Ephesians 4:25-32.
[4] Psalm 38:18; James 5:16.
[5] Matthew 5:23-24, 18:15-20.
[6] Exodus 20:7.

Today's Prayer

Father, I know You will judge me on how I use my words. * I am asking for the help of the Holy Spirit to cleanse my heart of any vile thoughts and hateful feelings that can give rise to hurtful and damaging speech. Strengthen me as I seek to make amends for those I have hurt or for whom I have been a bad example in my use of words. Forgive me, O, Lord, and create a pure heart within me. In the name of Christ, my Lord, I pray. Amen.

* Matthew 12:35-37.

Related Scripture Readings

  • James 1:19-25
  • Ephesians 4:25-32


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Illustration of James 1:26 NLT — If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.