In college, although I (Emily) was a professing Christian, out of curiosity to learn more about my own spirituality, I began to study things that I now know were a part of New Age teaching. Some of the books that I was reading did mention God and even quoted the Bible, so I believed this new information on how to live out my faith to see progress and success in my life would strengthen my Christianity. One of the major teachings, called The Law of Attraction, centered around my thought-life; making sure to focus on positive things versus negative things. These positive thoughts would act like a magnet to draw to myself positive outcomes and results regarding my dreams, aspirations, and even material possessions that I desired.
A step further would be to speak out loud positive declarations and affirmations about myself and what I would like to see happen to shape my future for the better. After I graduated college, when I met my husband at the church he grew up at, there was a lot of emphasis on this very same teaching (although they never called it The Law of Attraction) as well as being very cautious on what words you spoke. We were told that we needed to pay attention to our tongue- our words needed to be “in faith” and “in line with God’s Word.”
We now know that these teachings are rooted in what is called the ‘Word of Faith’ movement, which was influenced by a metaphysical movement called ‘New Thought.’ Thus, Word of Faith doctrine essentially embraces New Age’s Law of Attraction and is contrary to sound, Christian doctrine. Sadly, scriptures on the tongue were taken out of context to promote the idea that you can attract what you say and declare. God alone, not man, is the One who calls things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). The Bible does have much to say about the power of our words, but it has a lot more to do with reflecting Christ in our speech, words filled with the fruit of the Spirit, than attracting things or situations to you or “manifesting” the things you are declaring “in Jesus’ name.” Let us be wise to know the difference and understand these verses in their proper context.
James 1:26 offers us a sobering statement about our speech:
“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, ESV)
A religion is simply a particular system of faith and worship. If you are a believer in Christ, your religion is Christianity. James equates your profession of faith in Christ to how you choose to use your tongue. Our words point to what we truly believe and live by.
Are your words pointing others to God and His truth, always giving Him glory, or do your words always seem to point to yourself and the things and systems of this world? Do you control your tongue, or do you let your mouth rule you or cause you to puff yourself up in pride or get you into trouble with others? Our speech should reflect Christ and be seasoned with grace, humility, and love. If we confess our faith in Christ, there should be evidence of our changed speech as well as our changed life and behavior. When people meet us, they should hear and see something different than the rest of the world who does not follow the Lord.
Even in disagreements, we should continue to speak with a heart of love for others and not use profanity or offensive remarks that would hurt or cause pain. We should also be careful to not grumble or complain, but to use our tongue to proclaim our thankfulness unto the Lord. Taming the tongue is something we must grow in each day as the Lord sanctifies us. The good news is that we are never left on our own to walk in that type of self-control regarding our words. It is not something we can do apart from the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. The temptation to use our tongue for our own benefit and reputation is strong but let us be quick to ask the Lord for His help daily as we continue to grow in the likeness of Him, especially in our speech.
Father, without realizing it, I may have embraced a very self-centered and self-gratifying teaching on the importance of how we speak. I repent for using my tongue to puff myself up above others or hurting others with painful words that cut deep to the heart. I need Your help to control my tongue in times of strife or disagreement with others. I want my words to glorify You and share Your truth and gospel. I pray that my actions would also reflect my speech. I long for my walk with You to match my profession of faith. I do not want be self-deceived; I do not want my Christianity to be called “worthless” in Your eyes. Thank You for continually working in me and through me, so that I may look more and more like Jesus in word and deed. In Jesus’ name, amen.