James 1:26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.
Some people think religious acts like praying, fasting, giving, attending church, and other good deeds gain favor with God. Not so, according to James. He saw real religion as actions that result from a changed heart.
The first example of right actions involves control of the tongue. A rightly motivated religion does not allow for uncontrolled speech. Claim to be religious all you want, but a tongue out of control exposes a shallow religion. A religion that cannot control the tongue is useless are empty. Religious words and practices that produce no ethical effects reveal a superficial religion not based on the saving work of Jesus. Righthearted religion evidences itself in Christ-like obedience that works for the good of other people. A person who buys into the useless religion James addressed deceives himself. He lies to himself if he thinks he can say enough religious words and do enough religious activities to be right with God.
True religion comes from a life changed by Jesus. Human effort always falls short.