If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. (ESV)
I remember pastoring a church where there was an elderly woman who was notorious for using her tongue to destroy people. I can remember her calling me stupid from her front row seat while I was preaching. No, I am not making this up. I wish I was. Her tongue was a vicious weapon that was used to destroy many.
There was something else about this woman. She felt that she was very religious. If you were to question her about her vile mouth she would have rattled off her religious pedigree. She had been an esteemed member of the church for many years. She was "respected" in her community. She even used her voice to sing in the choir!
Let me take a moment to make an assessment on this woman's "religion." It was worthless! All of the singing she did meant nothing. Her church membership was irrelevant. Her list of accomplishments impressed herself, not the Lord. Her heart was full of sin. James makes it very clear that a person like this is self-deceived.
The sad reality is that there are far too many people who live lives of self-deception. They have convinced themselves of their great religion, but the one whose opinion really matters has already declared their religion worthless. The other problem is that there are people in the church who should hold these kind of people accountable for their worthless religion. But they often do not.
Do some self-evaluation today. Imagine if others listened to your words all day. Would they be drawn to glorify God as a result? Or would they be sickened by your worthless religion?