James also wrote, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” (James 1:26) This is a stinging rebuke. Whenever we allow uncontrolled speech to flow from our lips our faith is proved worthless. James contrasts the worthless religion of those who do not apply their faith, with the pure religion God does accept. “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.” (James 1:27) Widows and orphans were not just high on James’ list they are also high on God’s list. Moses spoke of God who, “defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow.” (Deut 10:18) And echoes the words of Isaiah who commands us to “Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17) God clearly has a heart for all who are oppressed, particularly the fatherless and the widows. Care for vulnerable widows and orphans is a clear example of faith in action.
The second aspect of pure religion is to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. If you considered your life as a river and looked for the sources of sin that might pollute your life what would they be? James commands us to get rid of all moral filth from our lives. Active faith closes the pipelines of sin that seek to pollute us. The Psalmist helps us turn off the source of sin, How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. (Ps 119:9). James tells us to look intently into God’s word, continue in it and do it. He states those who follow this way … will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:25)
Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, avoid moral pollution and put your faith into practice, then you will be blessed.
How might you practice active listening to God’s word?
Are there any sins polluting your life which you need to deal with?
What is one practical step you could take to apply God’s word to your life?
Rev John Malcolm