James 1:26 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.
All this really means is that if you are professing to know Christ, take close note of the word’s that come out of your mouth. The proverb says “A wise woman builds her house but a foolish woman tears it down with her hands.” In essence, you may build a great witness and testimony for Christ but if your not careful, out of your same mouth you can destroy all you have worked for to be a positive light for the Savior.
If you have “Honk if you love Jesus sticker on your car” and in that very same moment flip off the person who cut you off in traffic then your sticker is about as good as worthless. People can wear cross necklaces and show off their rosaries all they like but without good character and godly lives those things are just religious junk. Let your life be the symbol of the faith, not a bumper sticker or a Jesus T-Shirt. Putting on Christ’s humility, purity, and love as a garment is what really counts.
(Romans 13:14) Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.—personal purity
(Colossians 3:12) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.—-outward kindness
(1 Peter 5:5) Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
(Joel 2:13 13) Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
In modern application “Give your heart and not your Jesus T-Shirts, and bumperstickers” in those days people would tear there clothes and wear sackcloth to show sorrow. God was basically saying, “Don’t just outwardly say your sorry and love me, prove it by the way you live.” Not unlike today, we need to truly be repentant enough to change and not just “feel sorry.” Being sorrowful of sin is good but only if we produce the fruit of repentance and turn around.
The religion God honors comes from the heart, and it looks after those who are in need and keeps itself from sin. It is the token of true devotion the Christ, it is an untarnished mint condition coin in a way for the world to see.
Who are the orphans and widows though? What is an orphan or a widow in modern and today’s terms. Well let’s look first at what it meant then, and carry it into today. An orphan was a child who had lost both parents, in those days they had no system in their government to hand out support and children and women who lost their sole supporter of their needs could go as far as being forced to beg or go into slavery.
In Elijah’s time there was a widow who was in debt that was in danger of having her creditor take her son as payment for her debt. Through a miracle of God she was able to repay the debt with oil and she and her son were spared. Women in those days really were limited in what they could do so it was not like today where a qualified young lady can just go out and get a job. The orphan’s and widows were people who were in essence, desperate and dependent on others for help. This applied also to the handicapped, such as the blind and lame. In a nutshell, lets just say these were people who had the short end of the stick and had no way or means to getting an advantage in life.
Now how do we apply this today? Well look around! There are many people who could use our help and although financially we may not be able to help them, we can, however, reach out in friendship and love. You know that socially awkward fellow who can’t make friends for the life of him? He is a good example. You know the people who may have parents but their parents are absent or detached or worse, emotionally, verbally or physically abusive. If we are to literal we miss the timeless truth. Orphan’s are not just people who’s parents are dead, they can be people who’s parent are dead in the sense of showing love, support or affection which is just as tragic. Children are a gift from God no matter what, and they can be priceless investments. Widow’s could be similar to the single parent who’s spouse left them and the whole burden of raising their children falls on them.
We might not always be able to give monetarily but we can provide encouragement, love, support and time to these people.
In conclusion, last but not least, we as Christians should stay “unpolluted by the world.” We must love Christ in our obedience. We love him in service to others but also in purity of heart. Service by itself is not enough, God I believe does not care how kind or generous a person is if they don’t possess inward purity and integrity in personal life. You can give all day and still be a wicked person according to Jesus.
Luke 11:42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
“The love of God” yes, this should be what all generosity and charity and goodness should flow out of. Jesus said “If you love me, then you will obey my commands” John 14:15.
So true religion should manifest in 3 ways.
1.) Gracious and pure speech—”keep a tight rein on his tongue”
2.) Love for people—”look after orphans and widows in their distress”
3.) Godly Liftsyle/Practiced holiness——”to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Are you running on all three cylinders?
-(Ephesians 4:29) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
-(Ephesians 5:3) But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
-(1 Thessalonians 4:7) For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
-Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
-(Matthew 10:42) And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
-(Isaiah 58:6) “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.