Greek transliteration "thrēskos"- fear or Worship of God, "religious" If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile. - James 1:26
Oftentimes we see James 1:27 quoted, since it tells us what pure religion or rather the worship of God looks like. Naming the loving and caring for the needy and helpless, as in the widows and orphans who tend to be the most overlooked among us. But rarely do we pause to listen to what God is telling us in verse 26 that leads up to the truths of verse 27. Today in western society we have a distaste for the word "religion" or "religious" because we have seen many hypocritical abuses in religious traditions. In reality religion and religious are not bad words, they just seem to come with a lot of baggage and so many wrong ideas come to mind when using them. This word for religious used here by James is the only instance of this Greek word thrēskos in the Bible, which is typically translated as religious in most translations. But a quick look up of the word in Strong's Greek concordance (G2357) says it means literally the fear of or worship of God. So a better way to translate this passage that would not carry the mental blockage it does to many people would be like this: If someone thinks he fears and worships God yet does not bridle his tongue, he deceives his heart and his worship is in vain. (And on to vs 27) Pure and undefiled worship before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unpolluted by the world. (James 1:26-27)
So if you call yourself a Christian and do not control your tongue, (Which could mean; using crass or course speech, vulgar or foul words or joking; saying things intentionally hurtfull or mean without a loving or constructive purpose; saying things to tear people down rather than leading them to life; gossip; saying things out of place; speaking too much and listening too little, etc..)the Bible says here that your worship of God is useless, in vain, pointless.
God has always been one who doesn't just look to your uncommitted emotional and trivial appeals from your heart, but who weighs your heart by how you act on it. Faith is not a momentary feeling, but action on truths trusted as from God. By faith we are saved, but by actions we prove our faith. How do you live out what you say you believe? Is it a selfish faith or a surrendering, dying to self to serve God and others faith? 1Sam 15:22 says this; "Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he does in obedience? Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice; paying attention is better than the fat of rams." God never changes. He still requires obedience of us. He saves us so that we can obey.
Today many of us fool ourselves into thinking we are following Christ and worshiping him, because we have emotional moments in Church when we sing praise and worship. I tell you pagens do likewise in their idolic worship of their loved music stars. They are more moved in their emotional adorations to their favorite music artists and the entertainment minded worshipers of football, baseball, basketball or soccer are more passionate about their team playing a game than most Christians in worship of their God. What makes a true religious person, a true worshiper of God, as in this context of Biblical truth?
Someone who doesn't just say they follow Jesus, but puts feet to their faith and gives sacrificially to others. That is love, the kind of love the true Spirit of God puts in a child of God. If in introspection you think maybe your worship of God may be a bit vain and meaningless, which I think all of us fall into at some level (we all are works in progress ), then do as God leads us in the Psalms. Seek cleaning from God, and ask him to help show you the right paths to make more worshipful steps in your life, repenting where needed, and giving more to Christ and others. Don't trust your own heart but trust it to God and live for him. Search me O God, and know my heart, test me and know my thoughts. See if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps 139:23-24) Make this your daily heart cry to Christ. Then watch God make your way pure. Worship is what you do with your life, not just a song you sing on Sunday.