"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless."
Our words matter to God, so they should matter to us! If you have ever played a sport or watched a game of some sort on TV, it's likely that the coach challenged or set prior expectations for the team. That's exactly what Coach James is doing in this verse! He is challenging us, through God's Word, to remember just how power-packed our words can be. There are times when our words drastically fall short of God's expectations. When, instead of speaking positive and loving words of encouragement, we tear people down with negative comments and criticism. Therefore, James is instructing us to "keep a tight rein" on our tongues by controlling what comes out of our mouths, just as a rider keeps a tight rein on a horse's mouth to keep it from going in the wrong direction. Jesus said, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." This means, as Christ-followers, we need to be intentional and fully aware of what we say, because our words should reflect the presence of Christ in us. What are your words saying about you?
As a personal object lesson, take a tube of toothpaste and squeeze out a portion of it in your sink. Once it is out of the tube, it can't be put back in. Likewise, once spoken, your words can never be put back in your mouth. Let this be a vivid reminder to speak words that reveal your deep commitment to living a godly life.
Jesus, thank you for being the ultimate example of what my words should look like when I am talking to others. I understand how much weight my words carry. Give me the wisdom and discernment to use them in a way that reflects you. It's in your name I pray, Amen.