James 1:26-27 26 “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their 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.”
“Belief in or acknowledgement of some superhuman power or powers (esp. a god or gods) which is typically manifested in obedience, reverence, and worship; such a belief as part of a system defining a code of living, esp. as a means of achieving spiritual or material improvement.”
Now, oxford may tell us how the world views ‘religion’. But James presents a very different picture of ‘religion’ as required by God our Father and surprisingly none of those elements seems to be covered in this meaning given by Oxford. The scripture portion gives us the following important attributes of a religious person :
- One who keeps a tight rein on his tongue: We need to speak our words with care and make sure that we are speaking in accordance with the word of God. The word of God says that we should be quick to hear and slow to speak (James1:19).
- One who looks after orphans and widows in their distress: How many of us really associate with some good will activities? Do we even talk to our next door lady who lives alone? We often are so busy with our life that we don’t have time to do such things. Interestingly the word used in scripture is to “look after” and not even ‘support’ or ‘visit’. Indeed, we have a bigger call than what we think of ourselves!
- One who keep oneself from being polluted by the world: God don’t want us to ape the pagan culture and embrace their activities. Instead He wants us to live a life of holiness and worthy to be called a ‘child of God’.
In general, as it is observed, we don’t usually associate these characteristics with religion. But the scripture is a strong warning against this thinking of ignorance. We ought to be gracious in helping the needy, we have to careful in what we speak and we need to maintain a holy nature.
Of course, Christianity is an enduring and strong relationship with God born out of love. We are not a ‘cult’ or ‘sect’ but we have a ‘relationship’ with God, our Father in heaven. And ‘love’ is the leading factor for each of the believers. So everything we do should be in love. Even the elements as told by James ought to be practiced in true love rather than doing to ‘maintain your religion and posture’ in society.
May God be gracious to us, help us to overcome all temptations and lead a life worthy of our call!
God bless you…
Contributors: Nutan, Karen & Feba