Religion
By Marilynn Chadwick

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” —James 1:27 NLT

Got religion? It was a common question growing up in the deep South. Mostly, I ran away from religion. But God pursued and I eventually surrendered to his free gift of grace. A relationship, not religion. Forgiveness and salvation purchased with the costly blood of his Son. Eternal life. Amazing grace.

But God’s Word doesn’t let us slide past the word religion without a second glance. He prods us to practice “true religion.”

Take a moment to reflect on James 1:27 in the Amplified Version:

“Pure and unblemished religion [as it is expressed in outward acts] in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit and look after the fatherless and the widows in their distress, and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the [secular] world.”

James is not talking about religionas entrance into heaven, but instead as the practical expression of one’s devotion. The word for religionthreskeia, is used only once in the entire New Testament. It refers to the “outward ceremonial service of religion.” True religion must involve acts of “mercy, love, and holiness.”

If we want to please the Father, James exhorts us, then do it with acts of kindness for the hurting ones, especially widows and orphans. But we must also not forget the purity of our own life. This is the kind of religionthat warms the heart of our God.

I’m asking God to show me who is on his heart. I want to be sensitive to his Spirit and alert to practical ways I can serve those in need.

Dare to pray the prayer God always answers: Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours.


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