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Daily Devotional James 5:13–20

The average person speaks several thousand words daily, not to mention the words in texts, emails, social media posts. Multiply that in a given week, month, year, and the volume is daunting to consider. Jesus says that “everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (Matt. 12:36).

Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.

JAMES 5:13

Does that cause us to fear the Lord? It should. And in the book of James, God lovingly warns us about our words. The tongue is capable of singing songs of praise (James 5:13), but also like a small rudder of a ship steers an entire vessel or like a small spark starts a great forest fire (3:4–5). “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (3:8). Our words are capable to curse others (3:9), fight and quarrel (4:1), slander brothers and sisters (4:11), speak arrogant boasts that God calls evil (4:16), even make false promises or oaths (5:12).

But James ends with words of hope. While our words are capable of evil, they are also capable of blessing: prayer, praise, truth. This is meant both for one’s own blessing and to bless others. Notice how in today’s passage we are called to use words to pray and praise in trouble or happiness (5:13). But while church elders are called to pray over those troubled (v. 14), we are all called to use words that bless others through confession of sins and prayers for others, for “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (v. 16).

Go Deeper

How have you used your words in good or bad ways? Are you willing to speak words of truth, especially when a loved one has wandered away? (James 5:19). We are called to be both hearers and doers of the word (1:22). May God use our words to bless His name and bless others.

Pray with Us:

Lord Jesus Christ, save us from our tongues that so often can wound, cut, and even destroy. We, as Your people, want our words to be a blessing that flows in prayer, praise, and truth.

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