”If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 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.” James 1:26-27 Every New Years Eve, people all over the world make resolutions to do something, to do better, to improve their life, and more. The majority of these resolutions which end up being broken or go untried. The intent of a person to do right, or do better, I think, is their spirit crying out within them, longing for the original design with which we were created. Yet, our hearts, our selfish nature, our flesh nature, or whatever else you may desire to call it usually gets in the way. Christians are no different. As a matter of fact, I think we make resolutions every week, ones in which, because we’re prone to wander and often more inclined to the flesh, we break easily and often. Consider your life, do you live according to God’s word? Do you live a life that is seeking after Christ’s own heart? Or do you live according to the flesh?
Many of us have a more religious attitude toward God. We try and appease Him by going to church, volunteering, and so many other things. James tells us that there is only one pure form of religion, and that begins by watching one’s mouth (not boasting, not being arrogant, not being a slanderer or giving in to gossip and things like these), caring for the most helpless (the widow and orphan), and keeping one’s self unstained from the world. As the Church, Jesus said we would show the world that we are His disciples by how we love one another. This includes caring for those who can’t care for themselves, and the most vulnerable are the widow who is alone in the world, and the orphan who has no parent to care for them. How we treat the most vulnerable speaks to our inward self. I’m not speaking toward the able bodied and able to work; those who are truly helpless are people Jesus cares about.
The last part is most important of all: keeping one’s self unstained from the world. Consider this: the world is full of greed, lust and idolatry. We’ve taken God’s sacred gifts of marriage and corrupted them to something almost unrecognizable. We engage in sexual acts with multiple partners, when God intended it to be something special and beautiful between one man and one woman in marriage forever (and no other way!). We’re greedy, self-seeking, and self-affirming. We want what we want, and God’s ways be damned! This is the world’s way of thinking and, all too often, the Church tries to make overtures and concessions to a world that hates what it stands for! It’s time to push the world out of your walk, and, especially, out of the Church! Have nothing to do with the World! Push out that which dishonors God, and go and be a shining light in this ever present darkness. Stick to true religion: watch your mouth, keep it free of slander, boasting or bragging; care for the truly vulnerable, orphans and widows are a start; and keep yourself unstained from the world by seeking holiness, godliness, and the will of God. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!