Verse: James 1:26
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

Throughout this book, James is going to make some pretty strong statements about the difference between faith that “just believes,” and faith that produces evidence in our lives. Can you imagine a friend of yours telling you that your religion is worthless? How offensive would that be? What right would they have to say that?

And yet, James goes right for the jugular. “If you can’t even control what you say, then clearly your religion is worthless.” Wow.

My daughter rides horses, and this verse got me thinking about the bridle. We put the bridle on the horse for two reasons: to keep the horse from going places we don’t want it to, and to direct the horse to go places we do want it to go.

I have kind of always read this verse as a command to not curse, not say mean things, not gossip—you know, all the ways we use our speech for evil. However, what if an equally important part of this is to use our words for good?

In the hands of a good rider, my daughter (small compared to a horse in every way), can take this horse over jumps, around barrels, and more. Part of what our speech needs to look like is that we aren’t just avoiding wrong words, but we are speaking words of life. James knows that our words are powerful. They have a lasting effect on the lives of those around us. We know this don’t we? Haven’t you ever had someone say something encouraging to you, and it has just made all the difference in your life? Good words are powerful!

So today, take an assessment of your speech. Are you (am I?) speaking words of encouragement to others on a regular basis? Are we finding times to call out good things we see in other people? Are we taking the time to send an encouraging text (or snap, or whatever!) to a friend who is having a hard day? Are we using our voice to protect and defend others?

That’s the devotion for today: let’s not just avoid doing wrong with our words, let’s pursue doing good! Let’s become people who speak the most uplifting and grace-filled words to others that we possibly can.

Thank you Jesus for your love in my life. I pray that your love for me would overflow as I show love to others through my words.

Author: Christian Dunn