“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” James 1:26 (ESV)
According to James, our religion is worthless if we do not bridle our tongues. Unwise and ungodly speech brings great damage to the cause of Christ and the kingdom of God. My mother often reminded me throughout childhood to use wisdom in speech by “thinking before speaking.” Self-control in speech is vital for every believer. Religion will shine as precious and significant when Christians consistently speak a language of holiness.
Consider these sobering verses from Proverbs:
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Pr 10:19
“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” Pr 13:3
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Pr 12:18
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Pr 15:4
“The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Pr 15:2
“Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.” Pr 28:23
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Pr 18:21
Lord, as I consider your holiness, I recognize that I am a man of unclean lips. I live among a people of unclean lips. Have mercy on us, O God. Cleanse my heart and change my speech. I do not want my religion to be worthless. Set a guard over my mouth. May my speech today be gentle, self-controlled, loving, truthful, and pleasing to You. May I speak a consistent language of holiness that my religion will shine as precious and significant to the glory of God. Amen.
“O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
keep watch over the door of my lips!
Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
and let me not eat of their delicacies!
But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord;
in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!”
Verses above are quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.