Sunday, June 29, 2014

Religion Without Value

Religion Without Value
June 30, 2014
James 1:26  "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless."

This particular verse in James is given little thought in regard to the full complications of its meaning.  It reads, "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless."  There is no one who would debate the value of keeping a short leash on a verbose mouth.  And, in essence, this is what we have all understood the passage in James to represent, the teaching on keeping your tongue under wraps.  But James does not stop there.  The rest of his thought process tells us more than we may care to admit.

James says a person who cannot keep a tight rope on this lips is living a life of deception and furthermore says his religion has no value.  When James said this, it was to those who were practicing their Christianity, a valiant effort, however falling short of the mark.  James wanted to take them to the next level.  He told them that a man or woman who chooses to practice particular elements of Christian faith (prayer, worship, study of scripture, receiving of salvation, giving of tithes and offerings, sharing of faith) must include the management of the mouth among those important disciplines.  If a person engages in the study of scripture and the sharing of faith, yet backbites with his words, slanders leadership, and engages in gossip, is in danger of not really celebrating the full Christian faith.  James says this type of person is living a lie, a life of personal deception.  Furthermore, James says this type of person is wasting his efforts, even causing harm.

An important part of the Christian faith is sharing that faith with others.  By not living a full and whole life of Christian practice, James is saying a person can actually inflict scandal to the cause of Christ, thereby reducing its effectiveness and intrinsic value of others wanting to adopt such a faith.  There is no such thing as a perfect Christian, and thankfully the Lord does not stop His work in our lives, but if a person is going to live out his Christian life in front of others, it is paramount to include ALL aspects of the Christian faith.  This is not limited to gossip.  James says this means being wise with ones words, which includes the manner of delivery of said words.  Sadly, there are many Christian leaders even today who are a disappointment in the media at times because of loose lips.  Or there tends to be rogue cannons as some Christians think they are standing up for their faith but in doing so embarrass Christ by being foolish in their tone, rhetoric, and choice of words.

Sometimes the cause of Christ is not an easy pill to swallow, with difficult and controversial teachings, but nevertheless we need to be deliberate with our approach to words, especially publicly.  Unapologetically calculated is what James might recommend today in choosing words wisely.  If a person is not calculated with his mouth, then James said his religion is pointless or without value.  This can be interpreted one of two ways.  Either James is suggesting they are boxing against the wind, a fruitless task and a waste of effort OR James is suggesting they aren't even Christians at all, possibly in jeopardy of Hell.  I'm open to both interpretations and invite your thoughts and feedback on it.  Reply to this devotional and share your thoughts of religion without value.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ps 39:11, 1 Cor 13:1, James 1:19-27

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