avoiding worthlessness

“If those who claim devotion to God don’t control what they say, they mislead themselves. Their devotion is worthless.” (James 1:26 CEB)

“Here I am Father with my checklist. What do you think?”

  1. Read my Bible daily. Check.
  2. Say “grace” before every meal, private or public. Check.
  3. In the church house every time the doors are open and I can be there. Check.
  4. Attend and participate in Bible classes. Check.
  5. Regularly drop a meaningful amount of my income in the contribution plate. Check.
  6. Wear a smile and a deliberately display a pleasant, public demeanor. Check.
  7. Serve as I can, leading prayer, working the nursery, passing communion, greeting guests. Check.
  8. Actively participate in small groups and other ministries. Check.
  9. Volunteering, being quick and eager to do whatever is asked of me by church leaders. Check.
  10. Looking after folks I’ve heard are sick or are in trouble, praying and doing what I can. Check.
  11. Often invite people to come to church with me. Check.
  12. Have done all of the above for years upon years. Check.

“So, Father, how did I do? What’s my score?”

“Zero.”

“What?!”

“Worthless.”

“What on earth do you mean?!”

  1. Your cutting, whispered words in the corridor leave other people bleeding inside.
  2. Your idle talk and gossip cause great, damaging stress to my Son’s body.
  3. Your flattery to try to gain personal advantage feeds the cynicism and skepticism of others.
  4. Your speculative speech and insinuations cause people to cry themselves to sleep at night.
  5. Your dismissive way of speaking to some adds great weight to people’s already heavy burdens.
  6. Your camouflaged insults tears down respect for truly good people.
  7. Your demeaning conversations with your mate has turned their spirit cold, and not just to you.
  8. Your slanderous words about people with whom you disagree, callouses people’s hearts.
  9. Your flippant comments lead others to blindness as to the seriousness of what’s going on.
  10. Your speech that says to your children they never quite measure up sucks the life out of them.
  11. Your colorful language on the job, all in the name of “just doing business,” tarnishes My name.
  12. Your silence when a good word is desperately needed is damning.

“But … but … doesn’t anything I’ve shown you count for anything?”

“My child, what you say, and how you say it, tells me who you are, and whose you really are, down deep inside.”

Heavenly Father, remind me frequently throughout every day of the amazing gift you’ve given me: a tongue that can speak as Jesus spoke. Remind even more often of the even greater gift you’ve given me: a conscience/mind informed by Christ. In the name of my Lord and Savior, help me to always use those two gifts together. Amen.

“People can appear to be devoted to God, but if they don’t keep a tight rein on their words, they’re only tricking themselves if they think their ‘devotion’ is worth anything.” (James 1:26 DSV)