Your Religion is Worthless… IF

Your Religion is Worthless… IF


Citizens of the United States of America are protected and granted their rights by our governing document, The U.S. Constitution. At the end of the Constitution, there is a list of amended rights known as “The Bill of Rights.” These rights are at the bedrock and foundation of what it means to be an American. These rights are primarily responsible for making America a unique land of freedom, equality, and liberty. Americans fight for, defend, and hold these rights near and dear to their hearts. Each of these rights has been woven into the fabric of American life. But does that mean they belong in the Christian’s life?

There is at least one “right” given to American citizens by the Constitution that the Word of God has given the exact opposite “wrong” ascribed to it. That is the cherished freedom of speech. Having the ability to freely express opinions, feelings, emotions, beliefs, and thoughts uninhibited is a right that all Americans hold in high esteem. Many Americans are excited about the recent purchase of the social media platform Twitter. Elon Musk personally spent 44 billion dollars to buy Twitter because of how much he enjoys the freedom of speech. However, when we start to think freedom of speech is the message of the Bible, we are gravely mistaken.

One of the most challenging battles for Christians in America is to keep those two things separate. The natural tendency is to intertwine those two parts of ourselves and be equally American as we are Christian. When we are faced with the opportunity to express how we feel, the American in us stirs up a response. We have been conditioned to speak freely when the Bible demands the opposite. In this age of social media, we have convinced ourselves that we can say whatever we want… however we want. Ultimately, this attitude brings reproach on the Lord’s Church and makes us look foolish in the process. As Christians, we are not granted the freedom of speech in our governing document.

God’s Word is clear that our words are to be measured. A Christian is to spend the duration of their life learning how to bring their tongue into submission. James would say, “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” James 3:2,8-10.

In Paul’s letters to the churches, we find the Christian’s speech restricted even further. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29. Paul is telling Christians here that the focus and content of their speech should be centered around edifying (building up) those who are listening. He would also say to the Christians in Colossae, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Colossians 4:6. It is not easy to measure our words and weigh their consequences before they spill out of our mouths. However, that is what Paul is charging the Church to do when he says the Christian’s speech must ALWAYS be seasoned. Well, surely, if we are speaking and contending for the truth, anything is fair game. Right? Wrong.

Christians often feel they must meet the fervor of those in the darkness around them with the same level of ferocity when contending for the truth. It is true we are charged and expected to speak the truth and contend for it every single day of our lives, yes. However, not just any old way we see fit. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ.” Ephesians 4:15. The Apostle Peter often struggled in bridling his tongue and bringing it into submission. But even he would say in his letter, “… always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15. We often focus on the preparing to give a defense part of this passage, and for a noble reason, I believe. However, if we are not doing it in gentleness and respect, it takes the nobleness out of the equation.

When a Christian’s speech resembles the opposite of these passages by being unruly, hypocritical, corrupt, unseasoned, spiteful, harsh, and disrespectful to the world around us… we get to the heart of the matter with what James says in 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. A Christian who cannot control their tongue makes every good thing they do for the Kingdom—invalid. We become useless, fruitless, and worthless when we cannot control our speech. Someone can do mighty deeds for the Kingdom and undo all that good with a single word.

Being an American is a name I wear with gratitude and pride. However, being a Christian is the only name that truly matters to me. There will be no U.S. Constitution in the next life. There will only be the Words of Almighty God. So, if that means I have to bite my tongue… if that means I must measure my words… if that means I need to just keep my mouth shut from time to time… I will do my utmost best to do so for the Lord and Savior of my soul. Will you?

-Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism