“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” (James 1:26).
“Think before you speak” is an axiom that has been handed down for generations, and it is well that it has been because this principle has a firm base in scripture. Exhortations to control the tongue, as well as to exercise self-control in all areas of life, abound in both the Old and New Testaments.
James is the New Testament writer who has much to say about the necessity of controlling the tongue. His most aggressive statement has to be the one found in this passage. It is one thing to say that a person is weak in the faith, but to say that his religion is useless takes the situation to an entirely new level.
The lesson is clear. We must think carefully about the impact of our words before we let them fly from our lips. What we say to others can come across to them in ways we never intended. Words can cause hurt, they can cause division, they can cause confusion. But we must weigh our words so that none of these is a problem.