GUARDING OUR SPEECH
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
This verse is in the book of “James” in the Bible, so named because it is a letter from James the brother of Jesus to a group of Jewish Christians living outside Palestine. Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, James challenges his readers to live out their faith in God. They should be doers of God’s word, going farther than just hearing and believing. And this extends to our speech also. In our verse for today, James challenges his very religious readers that their faith and rituals are useless if they do not bridle their tongues. Today, if we can learn this principle, we can be more successful in our spiritual lives and more influential in our witness to others.
1. Our verse today teaches us to keep a “tight rein” on our tongues. A rein controls an animal with a bit in its mouth attached to leather straps to guide that animal to the left or the right. So, what do think it means to “rein in” or to “bridle” your tongue?
2. According to James, controlling your speech is one of the hardest things to do. In James 3 he says that “all kinds of animals have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue.” So, how can you control your speech? (Need a Hint? Read Philippians 4:13).
3. James also, speaks of the destructiveness of an unbridled tongue. In his letter he refers to it as a “spark that burns a forest,” and a “restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Why do you think speech can be so destructive? How can you avoid doing harm with your words?
4. Finally, in our verse for today, James indicates that our speech tells us whether our religion (the faith and practice of our lives) is real or fake. Why do you think speech is such a great gauge of the authenticity of our faith?
1. BE QUIET! In our verse for today an all throughout the Bible, we are taught that silence and a bridled tongue are the default settings for our speech. When in doubt, be quiet!
2. BE PRAYERFUL! When you do speak, make sure your speech is in alignment with God. Prayer is the way we determine this. A good rule is to speak to God before speaking to others!
3. SPEAK REDEMPTIVELY. Make sure your speech is constructive, redemptive, and doesn’t do more harm than good. A good gauge is the Rotary test of the things we say and do: Is it the TRUTH? Is it FAIR to all concerned? Will it build GOODWILL. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
“Father, guide my thoughts before they become my words. Place a guard over my mouth and a watchman over the door of my lips. May my words be acceptable and pleasing to You. Use my words this day to heal and not harm, to restore and not separate, to extend mercy and not judgment, to build up and not pull down, to comfort and not injure, to bring sunlight and not shadows, to encourage and not wound. And may my words herald good news, to bring the message and love of Christ to all. Amen.”