"If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless." James 1:26
There is no substitute for the peace and joy of living honestly. When you find courage from the unconditional love of your heavenly Father to truly be yourself, you alleviate yourself of the pressure and stress of keeping up appearances. And when you’re free from keeping up appearances, you have time and energy to devote to that which is real — that which is eternal.
James 1:26 says, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” Did you know you were capable of deceiving your own heart? James makes an incredibly strong statement here. How could my religion be worthless if I simply tell a small lie here or there? How could a little deception in my heart make my religion null and void?
This verse illustrates just how important our hearts are to God. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Your religion is only as valuable as it is true. The parts of you that are outward, e.g., your words, actions, and appearance, are only as valuable as they are a true reflection of your heart.
James is speaking here to those who think that what they say and do defines them. He’s speaking to those who believe their value and identity are wrapped up in their good works. But God flips our worldly paradigm on its head. He values actions done from the heart. He values appearances that are a reflection of the beauty in our hearts. He values words that come from a place of deep honesty and vulnerability. He values religion that is the fruit of his Spirit loving, leading, and filling our spirits.
Take time to truly assess whether you’re deceiving your own heart. Are you looking to that which is outward to define you? Do you see yourself related to what you do, or are your actions the result of who you are in Christ? May your time be filled with the loving-kindness of your heavenly Father and clear revelation from the Holy Spirit.
1. Meditate on what Scripture says about living honestly.
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” James 1:26
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
2. Are you looking to that which is outward to define you? Do you see yourself related to what you do, or are your actions the result of who you are in Christ?
3. Take time to receive revelation of how God sees you. Let Him show you how deeply He values who you already are. Let Him reveal His grace and loving-kindness to you. Take time to rest in a fresh revelation of His love and grace.
To live honestly is to value what God values. Only in consistently encountering God’s value of the heart can we begin to live out of who we are rather than working to become who we feel we should be. Only in seeing ourselves as God does will we value the wonderful identity we have as His sons and daughters. May your life be forever changed as you value honesty above appearance. May you find freedom and rest in the unchanging affections of your heavenly Father.
Extended Reading: James 1