James – Sacrificial Love and Our Tongue

by frazzledmama on June 6, 2012

james button

26 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. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.   James 1:26-27

I found it interesting in this passage that James choose the word for “religious” that means the “outward ceremonial public worship.”  It has nothing to do with the inward godliness we were just discussing in verses 21-25.  So, if we go to church and look the part, yet we cannot bridle our tongue, we’ve just wasted an hour of our life.  I used to think that in this verse James was switching topics, but he really isn’t. He is continuing to discuss the traits we see in those who have only an “outward religion.”

So, let’s take a look at what it means to bridle our tongue. 

When I think of a bridle, I immediately think of a horse.  That miniscule pieced of metal makes it possible for the tiniest of people to steer the horse where they want it to go.  Could there be a better word picture?  Allowed to follow it’s own will a horse can do much damage, whether maliciously or not.  Similarly, if we allow our tongues to follow their own will how much damage can be done, whether maliciously or not?  Thayer’s Greek Lexicon gives this definition of bridle, “to bridle, hold in check, restrain, to guide.”  It makes me think of Ephesians 5:15-17,

So be careful how you live.  Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.  Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

I suppose we could say, “Don’t speak thoughtlessly,”  rather we must consciously guide our speech. 

And what about this verse   found in Luke 6:45,

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Do you see the pattern here?  If we have a true “heart-relationship” with Christ, our tongues should be bridled.  If our tongues are not bridled, what then?  Obviously we all sin, and we all wound others with our words.  However, it should not be a pattern, or the norm for Christians. 

Then, James says,

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Isn’t it interesting, after stating that if we do not bridle our tongues our “religion” is useless, James shows us that pure and undefiled religion is measured by compassionate love?  Especially in Bible times, the widows and the orphans were especially needy.  They could in no way repay the kindness shown to them, and therefore caring for them shows true sacrificial love on the part of the Christian. 

Finally concluding this chapter, James reiterates that we should remain unspotted by the world.

I came away from this time of study with three thoughts. 

1.  The way we speak should be impacted by our relationship with Christ.  Including, but not limited to, the type of speech we use, the things we say, and the things we don’t say.  I have heard many times, “Well, I just say what’s on my mind, that’s just how I am.”  Ouch!  How many times has the person with that mindset wounded others?  Bridling our tongue includes not saying every thought that passes through our mind. 

2. Once again we are shown that our Heavenly Father wants to see His children in action!  Not simply sitting in a pew once a week, rather applying His principles to our lives and living in such a way that those around us feel the impact of His love through our actions.

3. Could it be that sacrificial love is shown through the bridling of our tongues?  How many times have I wounded my children with my words because I wasn’t willing to make the sacrifice of self-restraint?  Sometimes it feels good to get that little dig in, even to those we love.  Could it be that by restraining our mouth, we demonstrate sacrificial love by denying our heart the momentary pleasure of allowing our tongue to run away on it’s own? 

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
Print Friendly
Be Sociable, Share!

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment