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Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. James 1:26

Read: James 1:19-26
Listen: James 1


James shares some hard truths with the early church. He says those who don’t rein in their tongues have worthless religion. His practical words get right to the point. Hasty, angry words often escalate conflict and harm community rather than solve problems. James cautions believers to restrain reactive speech and to instead pray and ask the Spirit to calm their inner frenzy first. From a place of humility, compassionate truth can then be spoken in a constructive way. Ultimately, unreined tongues demonstrate an unchanged heart.

Likewise, our reactive comments can amplify strife and create additional hurt. Words matter. If we don’t keep a “tight rein” on our tongues, then we aren’t following Jesus seriously. We deceive ourselves when we think otherwise (James 1:22). We’ve all been on both sides of this issue. We’ve received hurtful words, from parents, teachers, coaches, friends, classmates or colleagues. We’ve also been the giver of hurtful words in moments of anger, frustration or disappointment. Through God’s power, we can hold our tongues and bring life and healing instead of hurt (Proverbs 18:21). With God’s help we can apologize for hurtful words and forgive those who’ve hurt us with theirs.

TODAY: Reflect on the situations when you are most likely to let your tongue loose. Share that struggle with a trusted, Christian friend, family member or your small group. Invite them to check in with you about your words in those situations. Pray for the ability to rein the tongue and respond in a way that reflects the character of Jesus.


Read Luke 17. Highlight anything that refers to the Old Testament and how Jesus fulfills it. Note the title Jesus uses for himself and the Old Testament stories he points back to.

Download a printable PDF of the BTW week here.