Worthless Religion

worthless-religion

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. (James 1:19-20)

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. (James 1:26)

Read: Ezekiel 37:1-38:23, James 1:19-2:17, Psalm 117:1-2, Proverbs 28:1

Relate: I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but the American public is engaged in a social media civil war. We have lost our ever loving minds over this election. I have seen some pretty angry posts and responses circulating.

We have been hesitant to listen, quick to speak, and hyper speed to get angry. I’d even venture to say some of us have lost control in our comments to one another.

I am not someone who gets particularly angry frequently. However, just the other day I had been fairly quick to take offense to something someone had said about religion and Biblical discussion. I had been misunderstood, and my words were attacked. I was angry because the negative words came from someone I trust.

I was somewhat careful with the language I used, but I was not slow to respond….nor was I particularly interested in being quick to listen to further input from that individual for a few hours.

So, when I was doing my devotions this morning, I felt a pretty good sting. It was the sting of conviction.

React: I sucked in my breathe and absorbed the convicting blow as I read James 1:19-20. Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger…. I wouldn’t exactly say those words described me a day ago.

Perhaps it was time to filter out the evil and filth in my own life and humbly accept the word of God- the words that have deep roots planted in my heart, words that are not passing nor easily altered by the social or political mood, words that teach me to rely on grace and love.

That was just sinking in as I came to James 1:26. A lot of people hate religion right now.

I read posts of angry Christians slinging stones (sometimes in attack and sometimes in self defense), and I know why people hate religion.

I myself had been quick to let my anger control my response. I could have easily said nothing. I should have said nothing. I should have let my initial, rational words been all that I communicated. I felt I had no choice but to respond. It was out of my control….

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. (James 1:26)

OUCH…

Our friends and family don’t need worthless religion. They need the love and the grace of our savior.

I need the love and the grace of our savior….

James is reminding us that it might not be our passionate and eloquent arguments that draw others to Christ. It might be our ability to really hear those around us and to control our tongues as we extend grace that points people to the truth of God.

Response:

Dear God,
You are a great God, and you deserve so much more than empty words and angry hearts. Thank you for showing me what it means to be slow to anger and full of grace. I am sorry for the times my words have not brought you honor and have damaged what others think of who you are. I pray that my words and my actions would be a reflection of your greatness.
Amen.

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22 thoughts on “Worthless Religion

  1. Hi BJ, Mike Tyson says that “everyone has a plan until you get punched in the mouth.” There are many ways of getting punched in the mouth and as you have indicated, many people feel that is what has happened to them as of late. I have never seen anything like it, not to this degree. How quick we all are to sin, how susceptible we can quickly become when something we hold dear is attacked. There is a fine line where upholding the truth crosses over to anger. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t gone there, myself included. It’s the roar of the multitude that bothers me now, the loss of control, the lack of listening to the other person’s point of view and even more, the lack of love. It’s what happens when a nation starts to seriously lose it’s way. I think we notice it more because of the size and magnitude of our movement away from God, from what was to what is. I am afraid for our children and our grandchildren and we’re not supposed to be afraid. Jesus understands our frustration, He understands our motives, He understands how frail we are. Pray and ask for forgiveness and be mindful that we are one wave in a big big sea. Only Jesus can calm the sea. We all need to focus.

    • Great insights, thank you, but it was Rebecca who wrote this post. She used to write every Friday and I am trying to convince her into doing so once again. 😉

    • Rebecca, my sincere apology for the oversight on my part. I love your insight and writing style. Please consider BJ’s request to continue writing every Friday, I for one would really enjoy it. Blessings!

  2. Amen! Spot on blog. Thank you. Words come from the heart, as Jesus said, and disclose the real spiritual state of the person. And as James said, words of blessing and cursing should never come from the same source – the same tongue. Thanks.

  3. Good reminder! We do get caught up in our wanting to be right at times and the stronger that feeling is, the less we want to hear from anyone else. It is part of our human nature but God also guides us on our walk of faith!

  4. Oh yes. Very easy to keep your temper and listen when you’re with people who see the world the same way. No growing in that, though. No chance for God’s grace to operate. We have two ears and one mouth and should use them in that proportion. Thanks for the reminder.

    • VERY good point I think. Most people gravitate towards the like minded. I’m not sure what to think of that though. How much should we CHOOSE to relax in today’s busy age, how choosy should we be with our friends? I’ve tried having friends from differing viewpoints and almost invariably it doesn’t work out! So maybe we should be choosy with friends, yet kind, open, gracious with strangers, co-workers, people we know who we don’t necessarily get along with, people in need of help/support, people with radically different political or religious belief systems, etc. I think that’s the ticket. Any opinions anybody?

      • It’s good question. It can be hard being friends with people who have radically different views to your own. I have good friends who don’t agree with many of my views and the good thing about that is we have to learn to look past that to the person who we love and respect because of time spent in each other’s lives. It keeps me humble because I can’t do lazy categorisations of people based on their views if I know them as individuals, and I am constantly reminded that reasonable people can differ from me, however reasonable I think my position. I welcome it even if it leads to awkward conversations sometimes because the way our personal newsfeeds are manipulated means the online information we get edits out the stuff that we disagree with and reinforces our pre-existing positions. This erodes our ability to discuss things from different perspectives in a respectful grown up way.

        • I don’t know, I think the best thing to do with free time is either hang out with people you really want to, and maybe volunteer with the poor or whatever cause one might have, anyway that’s my two cents…thanks for the thoughtful response!

  5. WOW! YES to this! I too have been saying to my fellow men and women that walk in Christ that the most powerful tool that we can exercise is creating dialogue and listening to people. Empathizing with people. No matter what your views are on politics, or who you like or what have you, Jesus explicitly set a prime of example for how we are to carry ourselves, especially in times such as these. Love on people, think and listening, participate in discourse and educate when the time calls for it.

    Religion isn’t what makes God, God, and certainly shouldn’t shape our constructs as to how we LIVE Christ (vs “practice” religion). The powerful relationship He has with us, and the sacrifice and life template his son Jesus set for us does.

    What a beautiful and honest post, This was such an awesome read, thank you for sharing it!

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