Daily Devotion, 09/26/2018, “Faith That Makes a Difference”
James 1:26-27 NIV
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 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.
The motivations of the heart that inform the words we choose and use say a great deal about the authenticity and maturity of our faith. James writes a great deal more about the power of our words in chapter three so I’ll wait to dive into that topic when we get there in a couple of weeks. In today’s passage, James is using the weight of our words to introduce another theme that he’ll come back to later. The theme is that what we do in the day to day stuff of life is a much greater indicator of what we believe than what we say about what we believe. In chapter 2:14, James asks, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” Simply put, what I truly believe is best demonstrated by what I consistently do.
Of all the good “deeds” and “works” that I can do, perhaps none is a greater indicator of the authenticity and maturity of my faith than what I do to serve those who Jesus referred to as “the least of these.” (Matthew 25:40-45) Most of us would say that keeping “oneself from being polluted by the world” is the best indicator. James obviously puts a high value on personal purity but he puts an even higher value on doing for others who cannot do much of anything for us when he says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” Orphans and widows were among the most disadvantaged and destitute people of James’ day. To care about them enough to notice them, then to love them and to serve them…that’s authentic faith; that’s “pure and faultless” religion.
Do for those who can do nothing for you. Love those who are hard to love. Notice those who are easy to overlook. Put feet on your faith. You are loved!