We have considered thus far the direct connection between our hearts and our mouths, as summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:34: "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (NIV). When the heart is filled, it overflows through the mouth, and that overflow tells us the real condition of the heart.
In the Old Testament, there are portraits of Christ and of Christ's bride. For Christ the Messiah and His bride, the church, the first feature of the grace of God and the spiritual and moral beauty is their lips and their speech.
We are now going to consider a biblical picture of the tongue itself. The epistle of James deals at length with this subject. First, consider some very searching remarks James makes about the kind of religion that God accepts and also the kind that He does not accept. In James 1:26, James speaks about the kind of religion that is not acceptable to God:
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (NIV)
It does not matter how religious we may claim to be. We may attend church, sing hymns and do all the other things that are expected of religious people. In themselves, all those things are good. We may do all those things, but if we do not keep our tongue under control, our religion is worthless and unacceptable to God. May God grant that all religious people would face up to this issue.
On the other hand, James speaks about the kind of religion God accepts. Again, it is different from the practice of the average churchgoer today:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27 NIV)
The first positive requirement of pure religion is not churchgoing, or even Bible reading. It is looking after and showing practical love to those who are in need, primarily orphans and widows.
Let me suggest, if you are in any way religious, that you take time to look in this mirror of the Word of God in James 1:26-27. If you do not control your tongue, your religion is worthless. If you want to have a religion that is accepted by God, it must be demonstrated first and foremost in caring for those who are in need: the orphans and the widows.
Dear Lord, I don’t want my religion to be worthless. I pray that You would show me a practical way as to how I can take care of vulnerable people in my family and neighbourhood. Please guide me through Your Holy Spirit to pray for those who are in need, especially among Your people, and those who are persecuted, oppressed, and in need of encouragement. In Jesus' Name, Amen.