“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” James 1:26
We all know people that seem to have the tendency of saying whatever thoughts that come in their minds. Maybe we, ourselves, are one of those people.
I’ve heard people respond when it’s been suggested to them that perhaps they needed to be more careful in the things they said to others that they had the right to say whatever they wanted to say and if others didn’t like it they didn’t have to listen.
Friends, such an attitude is not supported in scripture. James is going to elaborate on the capacity of our words to inflict great harm on others so I won’t delve deeply into it at this time. Suffice it to say, in this post, that there is a need for carefulness, and self control, when it comes to what we say. In fact, the apostle clearly states that if we’re not careful in how we exercise control of our words that our religion is useless. And that if we try and convince ourselves that this is not the case we’re deceiving ourselves.
Pure religion, he goes on to say is “to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
Notice that he begins by citing selfless service for the vulnerable as the first of the criterion for pure religion. Christlikeness means that we will have thoughtful consideration in all our dealings with others. Whether it’s what we say or what we do we will exercise carefulness so that we can be the messengers of God’s love and salvation we’ve been called to be.
But too much the influence of the world intrudes into our interactions with others. Selfishness, self satisfaction, and discourtesy too often mark the things that far to quickly come out of our mouths. This may be thought acceptable by people living by the world’s standards but it’s not to be thought correct by anyone seeking the approval of heaven.
Social media communications and the the example of many prominent celebrities and politicians may seem to be giving license for thoughtlessness and hurtfulness but friends Christ is our example, his behavior is the standard by which we ought to pattern our lives and his love should be the lingering impact that follows others interactions with us.
This is pure religion. This is what it means to be a Christian.