James 1:26-27 – “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” NASU
James had a way of coming to the point and pointedly declaring relevant truth as he does here. If you transpose the word religious with spiritual it might be more accepted by some but either way I believe we get the message even if we deny that we did. He addresses and contrasts two types of religion or spirituality. One is pure and the other is worthless.
He begins by drawing our attention to the fact that perception may seem like reality but it is not. He draws attention to how we view ourselves and in today’s world, there is so much effort in every arena and discipline to make people feel good about themselves even when they should face the guilt and conviction that God wants them to deal with. He says if you think you are religious or spiritual and do not bridle your tongue you are living a deceived life and your perception of your religious status is Worthless. That is bold!
He then defines Pure Religion in God’s sight as one that cares about and ministers to the orphans, widows, and keeps his or herself unstained by the world. Christianity must by its nature be concerned with the needs of people spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, economically, and in every way. That does not mean that we neglect other aspects of life but if we have no compassion for people then how can we claim to be followers of Christ who came to ‘seek and to save’ that which was lost? The very heart of the ministry of Jesus focused on people. I’ve had preachers tell me that they loved preaching but didn’t like dealing with people. I always said, “What are you doing in the ministry?” People not your ability to stand in the pulpit and your oratorical skills should be the focus of your labors. Some ministers are not pastors and should never lead congregations because that is not the gift that God put within them. That does not give them license to be unconcerned about people or from loving people. How can I claim to love God if I do not love people?
I want my religion or spirituality to be Worth Something not Worthless. I want to develop and manifest Pure Religion in the sight of God. I am less concerned about what people think of me than what God knows about me. I do not want to perform religious functions out of a sense of obligation but out of a heart of love that compels me and motivates me to action because of God’s love. One will be nothing more than a clanging banging gong and the other will bring the nectar of life to hearts.
So as you go through this day seek to manifest Pure Religion in the sight of God and it will minister to those who are hurting and hungry. Blessings as you go through your day!