Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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. 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. (James 1:26-27)
This week we are looking at James’ instruction to believers about Religion.  Lookingat 1:27, we see James’ definition of what constitutes "pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God"- the kind of religion that will keep us close to our Heavenly Father.  To be sure that our own religion is acceptable before God, let's notice some attributes as indicatedin this verse and its immediate context.

Prior to this verse, James 1:22 & 25say, (22) But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (25) But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.  Jamesmakes it clear that religion involves doing something, not just believing or professing something.
God did not intend for our religion to consist solely of "goingto church."  The word “deceives” is from a verb used in the New Testament only here and in Colossians 2:4.It means “to cheat or delude by false reasoning.”  The deception comes from thinking they have done all that is required just by attending church when listening to the Word is only the beginning.  
Extending our heart to God in worship is certainly important, but so is extending our hand to others in need!  Thus, the writer of Hebrews says, Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  (Hebrews 13:15-16)  Read these words from Titus 3:14: Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
James speaks about “deceiving ourselves”, a real danger to any believer.  This echoes the teachings of Jesus Himself – "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. (Matthew 7:21)
James becomes more specific still. What does it mean to keep on being doers of the word? Three areas of obedience are singled out by James: personal behavior, social concern, and inner values.  We must be careful with our words and show true compassion by visiting the poor and needy James also stresses the need for an inner attitude and value system distinct from that of the world in which we live.  We are to be set apart, inthe world but not ofthe world. 
Until we apply the Word of God by showing kindness and compassion for the poor and helpless, all the preaching, teaching, and studying we may do cannot make our religion "pure and undefiled"!  Putting feet to our faith can bring great purpose to our paths.  Is there someone God has laid on your heart/ Maybe today we need to think about making a “visit” to someone in need and using our tongues to encourage them.  Our faith should come out in our actions.  Don’t ignore a gentle prodding from the Holy Spirit. The one the Lord has placed on your heart will miss out but you also will miss out on what being a Christian is all about, and having your heart blessed in the process.

Scripture to Claim:
What good does it do, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but does not have any works? This kind of faith cannot save him, can it? Suppose a brother or sister does not have any clothes or daily food and one of you tells them, "Go in peace! Stay warm and eat heartily." If you do not provide for their bodily needs, what good does it do? In the same way, faith by itself, if it does not have any works, is dead.  James 2:14-17

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