Text: — James 1:26-27 — 26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. [NIV84]
The Big Idea: ‘Religious’ words are mere ‘mutterings’ if not followed up with actions.
It is interesting that, in fact, James uses a very rare word for ‘religion’ in these verses. It appears to mean “mutter forms of prayer.” I believe he chose this word (through the Holy Spirit) to reflect on those who talk about how faithful and religious they are. Their ‘religious’ words are mere ‘mutterings’ if not followed up with actions. … And the actions? That’s what verse 27 addresses…
And it is this very subject that our devotion in Heartwork address: serving the orphans and widows among us. Lifestyle worshipers, there are widows and orphans all around us. Many, though living in traditional ‘families,’ have been disconnected or disenfranchised, as well, but by no direct fault of the parents—except that they have been swept up in the hurriedness and busyness of this polluted world. Do you think he was referring to this when he says, “Keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (v. 27)? Or could James also include other forms of soul pollution for the religious? Your thoughts?
Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing; — Psalm 68:5-6a (NIV84)
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. — John 14:18 (NIV84)
Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. — 1 Timothy 5:3-4 (NIV84)
Heavenly Father, Your heart’s desire is to reconnect Your orphaned and widowed creation with Yourself. I ask the Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, to empower me to tend to the needs of those You have brought into my sphere of influence, even in my own household. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.