Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. James 1, verse 26.
If you’re like me, do the Mary Poppins thing before you read any further. This medicine will go down a little easier with a spoonful of sugar. In fact, better open up a whole bag…we might need it.
Repeat after me: (What James says) I’m guilty of this.
See, religion won’t save you. Christianity won’t save you. Being a good Lutheran, Catholic, Presbyterian, or Baptist won’t save you. Memorizing your Bible, following the law, doing good deeds, first doing no harm whatever thou wilt do, the US Constitution, and helping little old ladies across the street won’t save you. Jesus saves us: only Jesus. Hold onto that thought for a minute.
Warning: judgment follows. I have only contempt for the holier-than-thou folks who piously stare the rest of us down at church. I have only contempt for the people who insist that theirs is the only true religion, that they know the way to heaven that seems to elude the rest of us. I have only contempt for people who lord their faith over others as if to use it as some kind of weapon or shield against contact with ‘those sinners.’ Most of all, it’s not just me who has contempt for these kinds of people. It’s James, who was speaking for his brother, Jesus.
Warning: confession follows. Those folks for whom I have contempt? I’m one of them. I’m guilty of those things that I look down on others for doing. I’ve done those things, and I’m ashamed of that. When I consider that Jesus has contempt for folks like me who’ve so misused His great commission, well, I’m even more ashamed of myself and even more thankful for His grace. Without His grace, I would have no option other than terror.
How about you?
Those of us who say one thing but do another have a big problem on our hands. James reminds us that our faith in Jesus is made disreputable, worthless by our hypocrisy. We bring discredit on Him by our words and actions and as long as we willingly wallow in this condition, we’re depraved and without hope. Everything we do to make amends is worthless. Dress in your Sunday best, put your hands in the air, shout out along with the praise band wannabe rock stars, and go through all the motions you can: you’re out of luck. We’re damned. There’s nothing YOU or I can do about our condition…
…except repent, turn, and follow. Healing starts with following Jesus and reshaping our lives to do what He says. Repairing the damage can only happen by starting at the cross. Only Jesus saves us.
Lord Jesus, please save me from myself. Teach me to temper my words, to listen and be patient, and to always follow you no matter what.
Do you struggle with keeping your tongue in check?
In what areas have you talked the talk but not walked the walk?
Who do you see when you look in the mirror?