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Taming the Tongue

Taming the Tongue

Words of Faith 4-22-2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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James 1:26

        If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.


         I think it is a conspiracy.  Every time we go to ride horses, I get the wild one.  The cowboy comes out with the last horse.  As it jerks its head up and down, he says: "Now this one is a bit 'spirited.'"  I know what that means.  It means I am going to be horizontal.  It means bushes and trees.  It means the William Tell Overture.  I have learned that the "spirited horse" hates the reins and enjoys toying with the novice rider. It is not content to plod along the trail.  It snorts and jerks its head.  

       James points out that the human tongue can be every bit as "spirited" and difficult to control like a wild horse, and that poses a problem for those who claim to be religious.

      James was specific here.  He addressed those who consider themselves "religious.”  The word threskos ("religious") occurs only here in the New Testament.  It is used to describe those who perform the external acts of religion, such as public worship, fasting, or giving to the needy.  There certainly is nothing wrong with these things.  The problem is when such a person does not keep a rein on their tongue and reveals that this religiousness was all just external. 

      The image in this language is that such a person lets his tongue go like an unbridled horse. He exerts no controlling restraint on his speech. Exactly how his speech offends is not indicated, whether it be by the cutting criticism of others, by uncleanness, by dishonesty, or by other ways.

      But the result is clear in that his uncontrolled tongue reveals that his religion is worthless.  Such religion is merely an external sham. Such a person has been playing the part of one who is religious and has convinced himself that he really is religious, but in so doing, he deceives himself.

      Have you heard the old saying?  What you DO speaks so loudly...  I cannot hear what you are saying.  It is a sobering truth, especially among religious people.  James goes even further in confronting us, religious folks.  What you SAY-- can negate all the religion you DO.  Good works are easy compared to tongue control.  Moral living is a piece of cake by comparison.  Rules are easy to follow as long as we can talk about those who do not follow them. 

          We might call this a "religious spirit.”  Such a spirit seems to strive to deceive believers into thinking they can justify themselves and then judge others who do not obey the religious rules. A lot of that takes place when there is a "spirited" and "unreigned" tongue loose and running down the path. 

         James has straight talk for this.  Over the years, he had heard it all from his place of leadership in Jerusalem.  He had seen the religious spirit of the Pharisees and that of self-righteous Christians.  The restraint or lack of restraint of the tongue could tell all.  If there is no rein on the tongue?  That religion is worthless.

          How is the reign on your tongue?  Do you ever reflect on the day and cringe a bit at what came out of your mouth?  Sometimes we are not even the best judge.  It is a risky but revealing thing to ask a really trusted friend-- "How is the reign on my tongue? Do I hurt people?  Wound others?  Snap at those I love?"


        Lord, Jesus, I surrender my tongue to You.  I pray that all I do and believe my not be negated by what I say.  Rein in my tongue, O Holy Spirit of God.  In Jesus' name.


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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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