Love One Another In the book of James in the Bible there is a passage that states: “What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.” (GNT) The writer goes further and states that it is useless to just listen to God’s word, but that we need to put it into practice before it has any real value in our lives. Taking care of widows and orphans is a metaphor for finding and helping the needy of this world. If we aren’t doing that in some fashion, then this passage in James is suggesting that our religion is valueless.
- Deeds – Not Words
James says too that we need to control our tongues. We need to be aware of the power and effect of the words we use, especially words of censure, or criticism or reproof. I read yesterday a story of a student who was set the task of reclaiming a bundle of feathers tossed into the wind, and of course he couldn’t get them all back. So it is with the words we “toss into the wind”. It is not possible to take them all back later if we need to so do. James said; “If you do not control your tongue, your religion is worthless and you deceive yourself.
- Real Love is Practical!
By this I mean that the “Agape” love we have for our neighbours is truly expressed when we offer deeds of practical kindness and help to whosoever is in need. The prophet John wrote (1 John:3) – “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” It is not enough to say we love others, for love to have real meaning we must act in love – back to the widows and orphans – we need to offer practical expressions of our love to our neighbours and anyone in need.
- Hearing and doing.
James said; “Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead, put it into practice.” We can go to church on Sunday morning and listen to the Word of God, and then go off home to a filling Sunday dinner, and very likely forget all we have heard. I had a friend who said; “If I don’t get something to take to work on Monday and use during the week, then the sermon was worthless!”. The reality of our Christian walk is reflected in what we do during the week with what we heard, (or read in the Bible), on Sunday,
- As You Sow, So Shall You Reap.
More from James – “But if you look closely into the perfect law that sets people free, and keep on paying attention to it and do not simply listen and then forget it, but put it into practice—you will be blessed by God in what you do. (James 1:23)” We ought not to do good with the thought of a possible reward, but it is really nice to know that when we are obedient, and we bless others, then we will surely be blessed by God. This is my own experience, that God blesses us mightily when we are obedient. There is this promise in Psalm 1 – That the man who meditates on God’s law both day and night will be like the tree that grows by the still water, and everything he does will flourish! How about that? Wouldn’t you like it if everything you did would flourish?
- Real Religion
Thus the question, What is Genuine Religion, is simply obedience to God and putting his love into every part of your life. It is easy to keep from being corrupted by the world if we are flat out loving others. We won’t have time to get into trouble!