The Unbridled Tongue.
James 1:19-21, 26-27
Many of us over the holidays had the blessing of spending extra time with friends and family. It is always very fun and relaxing when I’m around my close family and friends, however in my relaxation I find I let the “bridle” of my tongue also be dangerously relaxed.
It got me thinking about all the times we allow familiarity to dictate how we use our words. James has a lot to say on the tongue. He starts in 1:19 by telling us all to be “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger”… Easier said than done while in the midst of an intense game of spades with your family members. He hits even closer to home when he talks about those that consider themselves religious… check this out in vs 26-27
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
There is much more that James says, however I want to challenge your thinking in a different way than just practicing the discipline of bridling the tongue. I think this is missed sometimes, especially when we are making resolutions and commitments. Sometimes we can trivialize "watching our mouth". How many times have you told yourself "Yeah, I need to really tone down the gossip this year" or "I'm going to try to curse less". Those have been my thoughts more than I would like to admit!
See, there is something underlying that is so much more dangerous! If our “unbridled tongue” equals a deceitful heart and a worthless “work”, then what does that mean when we are trying to speak real truth to someone? What does that mean when we give someone the gospel?
Toward the end of the sermon on the mount that Jesus gave in Matthew 5-7, he says in 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you”. If we are allowing our tongue to be unbridled, what basis do we have for offering the gospel, the most precious of pearls, to people. Aren’t we just offering to them a reason to trample it? As the heralds of truth, the light of the world, the salt of the earth; we should speak truth to our hearts and not deceit. Our words should bring worth to our work, so that when people “see our good works it will glorify our Father in heaven” (Matt 5:16), but also we do not want our unbridled words to reduce the impact of our gospel story when we tell people of sin, repentance, grace, and faith.
For me, the heart hitter is this: I want to know that when I share my story of redemption, that it is counted and not discounted. That the gospel is offered to others as a pearl and not perceived as a pebble. How will they know whether or not I am offering them something precious or something worthless? James pretty much tells us right? The unbridled tongue.
Soli Deo Gloria!