Bridle Your Tongue

James 1:26 says, “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.” The Amplified says of religious, “…(as  piously observant of the external duties of his faith)…” The word useless means futile, fruitless, empty, ineffectual, void of results, and worthless.

Let’s connect this verse with James 3:2. It says, “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” We know from verse 6 that our tongue, “…is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body…”

We can either bridle our whole body, or we can defile it. This is strong truth that we need to heed. What we think becomes words. Matthew 15:18 says, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.” What kind of thoughts? Verse 19 says, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts…”

Let’s classify evil thoughts. Any negative thought goes against Who God is. Our negative thoughts against ourself, others, or our circumstances oppose the Lord. Whew! Let’s remember Isaiah 55:8-9. It says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

We certainly prove this truth when we view our trials as intruders. Yes, they stop us in our tracks. Yes, they change everything. However, they are stamped with His divine purpose. I love Ephesians 1:11. It says, “…being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”

James wrote so graphically about the tongue. In James 3:3 he used the illustration of a bit in the horse’s mouth, “…that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.” In verse 4 he used the picture of a ship’s rudder, “…although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.”

Have you considered that the Lord gave us our tongues for a specific purpose? We walk away from His purpose when we use our tongues negatively. Verse 9 says, “With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.” 1 Peter 3:9 instructs us to, “Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, know that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”

James 3:11-12 clarifies duplicity. It says, “Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” Matthew 5:37 says, “But let your Yes be Yes, and your No be No. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

Isaiah 43:7 says, “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory…” There is our God’s purpose clearly defined. Our speech is to glorify Him, as is every aspect of our lives. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” 

Proverbs 18:4 says, “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.” What flows out of your mouth when your will is crossed? What we think in our heart, will be expressed through our words and our body language. Proverbs 16:23-24 says, “The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

Psalm 149:6 says, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.” We are called to praise the Lord in all circumstances, and speak His word to our mountain-obstacles. Nothing is impossible for the Lord. He takes great delight in praising lips. Hebrews 13:15 is our way to please His heart as we endure our trials with joy. It says, “…let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving  thanks to His name.”

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