In this chapter, James addresses one of the most challenging aspects of being Christlike: controlling what we say.
As James declares, the tongue is one of the most powerful parts of the body, able to accomplish both great good and tremendous evil. Our ability to tame it can reflect our commitment to live honestly—or, as Maria found out, not to do so.
Maria knew that lying was wrong, but there were circumstances in her life that her parents simply wouldn't understand. She had dropped all of her classes the previous semester because a close friend had been suicidal and needed her help. Now, at the end of another semester, she hadn't turned in the necessary work, and her "incompletes" would soon show up as failing grades on her transcript.
Perhaps worst of all, her parents didn't know about any of it.
So what did Maria do? She intercepted the transcript from the school and lied about her grades to her parents. After all, she assured herself, her professors had said they would still allow her to complete the courses. Everything would work out for the best in the long run. Her parents didn't need to know, and she would protect her friend's secret. Even God would understand that this was a situation in which the truth absolutely needed to be bent.
Maria thought she was in the clear until a couple of months later when she received an anxious phone call from her mom. The college had sent her parents a copy of the transcript.
Maria felt deeply ashamed of her deception; she could hardly face her mom and dad the next time she saw them. She wondered how she could have done such a thing. Yet, strangely enough, deep inside she was actually relieved that her secret had finally been exposed. Living a lie had been difficult. From now on, she promised herself—and God—every word that comes out of my mouth will be an honest one!