Living it Out by Leaving it Out – Final Stretch

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The first week of the Final Stretch series focused on the scripture of James 1, which speaks very directly to the hypocrisy that arises when we fail to put our faith into action. The necessity of living our faith is an underlying theme in the book of James. Even if we identify as followers of God, attend church, and read our Bibles regularly, James warns that our religion is rendered worthless when we fail to live it out in our actions.

We’ve all heard the adage “actions speak louder than words.”  While this may be true, it should not suggest that the words we speak are without consequence.

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

This election season has presented a sobering reminder of the damage our words can inflict. People professing to be “of faith” reside on all sides of the political spectrum. But so many of the words they utter—whether audibly or via social media—are in opposition to God’s teachings. We’ve all seen and heard the judging, blaming, and name calling; the unhealthy arguments, false accusations, and threats. This ceaseless tongue wagging has weighed heavily on many of us.

James actually had quite a bit to say on the topic of tongues. In James 1:19, the author famously instructs us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” In James 3:5-6, he speaks to the power—for good or bad—of the tongue. “The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches,” he writes. Or, if used with wicked intent, “it can set your whole life on fire.”

In setting up the Final Stretch series, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder spoke of our opportunity to gain spiritual vision for the rest of 2020 and beyond. Living out of our faith—following the spirit into action—is certainly at the heart of that vision. The lesson from James 1:26 is that living it out often requires that we leave it out by controlling our tongue.

Do you catch yourself speaking (or writing) words that betray the principles of God’s word? If so, what can you do to be more mindful of the power—and gravity—of your words?

In James 3:8, we are told “no human being can tame the tongue.” Do you find this comforting or confounding? What can we do, as humans, to move closer to fulfilling the message of James 1:26 while also understanding that we are imperfect beings?

Next Steps:
This week, dedicate some quiet time to considering how you can leverage the challenges this year has presented to fortify your spiritual vision moving forward. Think about what you’ve experienced, what you’ve overcome, and where you’ve fallen short. Use what you’ve learned to strengthen your vision and faith during this final stretch of 2020 and beyond.

Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for your love and your word. Help me to always be mindful of the importance of living my faith and the value of harnessing my tongue. Grant me the wisdom to live—and speak—in concert with your desires. Amen.

This post was written by Todd Romain. Todd enjoys sharing life with his wife Jessica and their family and serving at CedarCreek. He is a communications director at Owens Corning and enjoys reading, writing, music, and sports in his spare time.

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