Monday, December 14, 2009

Stick a Bow On It

I've been on one passage in scripture for a couple of days now. At first, its sting caught me off guard. I began to look at different versions, different translations, root words, all in a very vain effort to repackage, reword and take the edge off.
Nope. It's like wrapping a baseball bat for Christmas. No matter what, it's gonna look like a bat. I guess with some things we just need to stick a bow on it, and it is what it is.

Anybody out there got a problem with your tongue? With mouthing off, snapping, flipping your lid, trash talking....gossip? No? How about tearing people down or belittling, maybe swearing? Hold onto your knickers, cause it's a bumpy ride from here...

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
(James 1:26)

There's a harshness about it isn't there? And it just won't be repackaged. I've tried with every translation of the bible that I could find. If we deceive ourselves with an uncontrolled tongue:
KJV-our religion is in vain.
MSG-our religion is hot air, and only hot air.
NIRV-our beliefs are not worth anything at all.
ESV,GWT,NASB,NET,WEB-our religion is worthless.
AMP-our religious service is worthless.
CEV,HCSB-everything you do is useless.
NCV-our 'religion' is worth nothing.
Even the original word meaning is 'empty and profitless'.

Ouch. I had to take a Band-Aid off for my son this morning. He had a huge blistered burn and the bandage mom had put on just wasn't big enough, so it had actually become part of the wound. The skin was stuck to it. No matter what, there was just no easy way to do what had to be done. It had to come off, the wound had to be cleaned. The peroxide had to do it's work, and the Neosporin had to be rubbed in. It was absolutely unpleasant for him, but still necessary, and he'll heal properly for persevering through the sting. So will you and I. Some things you just can't dress up and put a Band-Aid over.

There's no room for misinterpretation, no way to rephrase it.

It's not that the text says our faith is in danger, or that our salvation is in jeopardy, but that our religion, our system of beliefs and practices, is empty, useless, pointless and futile.

But if the definition of faith is trust, to have belief in something of which there is no proof, then isn't it possible for us to lose our faith? To set it down, because our religion, our beliefs have become corroded and useless? If your practice of religion is faulted, then your faith will follow suit.

Is this making you think a little more about your choice of words?

Ahhhh, the tongue. Say "elelelelel" right now out loud... Yeah, that thing flopping around in your mouth. If any closet or corner of your house is missed by the broom, what happens? We've all seen that spot behind the toilet where the mop doesn't man's land. In the same way, if any closet or corner of our souls are left unchecked under the brooming sweep of God's perfect law, we can expect a gathering of filth and cobwebs. And friends, nowhere is that sin more blatantly revealed than in the words we choose to paint with.

'Out of the overflow of our heart the mouths speaks' the bible says. As uncontrollable as vomit. That's why it's a true reflection of what we're feeling inside, and why I think this verse is so stark. But, isn't it good to know that we have this built in thermometer, to check ourselves, to evaluate?

Are the white bubbles fizzing in the wound, pulling the dirt out and cleaning out the gunk?
Praise God for peroxide, amen?


  1. James has always been a tough book for me to read.
    My tendency toward self-righteousness causes me to fool myself into thinking I'm "good" and then forget that if there is any good in me, it's borrowed.

    Definitely, the movement of the tongue is a good way to determine whether I am truly walking humbly with my God.


  2. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (James 1:26) Not only is your religion worthless but you also take down the person you are lashing out with your tongue. You try to take their religion away and only by the grace of God can they hang on. And they cling to that grace every day, every night in the nightmares that come. Yes, there is no band-aid for the tongue. Be in the Word, every day. ‘Out of the overflow of our heart the mouths speaks’. Be in the Word every day…… every day. We MUST be in the Word!