JAMES 1 VERSE 27
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Merrian-Webster’s online dictionary defines religion as “an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods” (note: this is one of several related definitions). Religion is often tied closely to another topic we have looked at, legalism. Notice that the beliefs and rules that God provides for us are very simple. Help the helpless and remain unstained by the wickedness of the world. The Bible provides additional guidance on identifying what is true religion.
James 1 verse 26 says “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” The practice of religion is not something that is done boastfully or with a proud heart. True religion is exercised in a quiet spirit and a steadfast hope for better things than what this life offers. We do this through our service to God (by helping the helpless).
Colossians 2 verses 20-23 tells us “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’ 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” The author here reminds us that true religion is not an outward practice of abstinence from things that do not defile us (food, drink, traditions and other physical things). The indulgence of the flesh mentioned here is more sinister than that and takes us back to our verse of the day. The world desires us to revel in sin, anything that separates us from God. Our hearts and minds need to be centered on something greater than this life and this world.
WHAT IT MEANS TO OUR FAMILY
We should actively seek ways to help those in need. This can be people we see on the street, people we work with or people we come across in life. It can also be people we actively seek out, such as through contributions to charitable organizations or organizations we contribute our time to. God also desires us to remain unstained from the world. The question for us is how do we remain unstained? We do that by seeking God in every way, by praying and studying his Word and being familiar with his methods. Then, we can be safe from wickedness and know what path to choose in this world. The particular stains of the world will be a topic for another day.
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