Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
James 1:27 NLT
Have you ever struggled with “living a list” as opposed to “living a life”?
Many find safety, security and even significance in following a prescribed set of guidelines for spiritual benefit. It’s becomes more emphasis on “doing” out of set of rules, instead of “being” as a result of relationships. Matthew Henry wrote, “When men take more pains to seem religious than really to be so, it is a sign their religion is in vain.”
James gives a description of “True Religion”. It’s caring and not conforming. Gill defines pure or authentic religion as “that which is sincere and genuine, and free from hypocrisy.” It’s a code evidenced by a conduct. It’s a belief expressed by a behavior. It’s a life lived in love.
Free From Slander. Part of our trueness is taming our tongue. James writes, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” (Jam 1:26 NLT). What we say is a sign of the sincerity of our faith. Paul reminds us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Eph 4:31-32 NLT).
Harsh conversation fails to honor Christ.
Free To Serve. James defines authenticity as evidence of everyday empathy for those in distress . . . it’s taking care of orphans, widows, impoverished, disadvantaged, oppresses, wounded, and hurt. Caring for others becomes our call. The prophet Isaiah describes a caring conviction that is congruent with our commitment to Christ. He writes, “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” (Is 1:17 NLT).
Conviction is seen in our compassion.
Free To Stand. We are to stay unspotted and unstained . . . refusing to be polluted. We are not conformed, but transformed. (Rom 12:1-2). What we love dictates how we live. Our practice is produced by our passion. John writes, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.” (1 John 2:15 NLT) We change our cravings . . . we determine our desire. John continues, “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” (1 John 2:16 NLT)
In the simplest sincerity of our belief, we are free to stand.
There is a foundation and formation in our faith. It is revealed in the realness of life.
We stand on a pursuit of holiness and a practice to help.
We love those in distress and we light the darkness.
We say “yes” to the power and purity of God’s way and “no” to the voices and vices of the world.
That’s a definition of real religion.