Get the Picture?
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.
There was something wrong with my cable television feed. I wanted to watch a football game, and all I could get was sound. The screen remained dark and lifeless.
I turned the TV off, rebooted the cable box . . . still no picture. Only sound. But I didn’t want to just listen to the football game—I have a radio for that—I wanted to watch it. I did everything I could think of to get that picture to show up on the screen. I pushed every button on the remote, and all it did was push my buttons.
I finally gave up.
That same week as I studied this text from James, one commentator actually included these words on this verse when he wrote, “To get the maximum enjoyment from your television, you need two things: sound and picture.”
He must have missed a football game, too!
He added that if you’re getting sight but no sound, or sound but no sight, then your television isn’t doing its job. Televisions were designed to deliver both picture and sound.
The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that our personal testimony of faith
falls short in one or both of these categories.
James has already reminded us how important it is to practice what we preach, but in this text he reminds us how important it is to preach what we practice. In fact, he tells us that spiritual maturity will only happen when we begin to guard our tongues as much as we guard our lives.
He even ends this portion of his letter by saying that the Christian who doesn’t bridle his tongue has a worthless religion. Don’t misunderstand James here. He isn’t saying that this man’s religion doesn’t exist or that this man isn’t really a Christian, but that he’s spiritually immature because his religion doesn’t impact his speech.
Frankly, we can go to every church service, show up at every prayer
meeting, and give money in every offering and not grow an inch spiritually if the sound doesn’t match the sight—if your mouth doesn’t measure up to the message of Christianity.
If you’re wondering today how well you’re doing spiritually or what kind of example you’re setting for others, turn on the TV of your life and listen to the sound.
Are you a profane person? Do you make crude jokes when you’re with your “group”? Are you a gossip? Do you make fun of other people? Do you yell at the driver who cuts you off? Do you criticize your pastor or boss or kids or spouse to other people?
James reminds us that how we talk says as much about our faith as how we walk! Frankly, the world around us needs to see both measuring up to the biblical standard of our precious Gospel.
Don’t be like my cranky television set! Make sure both the sight and sound of your Christian life are in sync. We are displaying Christ to the world by how we live and how we speak. Let’s recommit to making religion worthwhile by honoring Christ with both our actions and words.
Let’s give the world sight . . . and sound.
Prayer Point: Have you hurt someone lately because of your words or damaged your testimony on campus or at the office? Confess your words to Christ and then go apologize to those people today. They’ll probably be amazed at seeing a genuine picture of true Christianity.
Extra Refreshment: Psalm 15
is the famous psalm that describes the characteristics of a godly man. Read it at least two times and notice the numerous characteristics related to speech.
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