Today’s Reading: James 1:26 – 2:7
Before I start enjoying some morning coffee with God, I need to remember to get out the “mirror” we talked about yesterday. It is time to be honest and open with God – allowing His Spirit to speak to me as I read His word, willing to hear anything He might have to say.
If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 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 1:26-27
That’s good news for those of us who have given our lives for the pregnancy center ministry. That is what we do! We take care of orphans and widows:
– The babies whose fathers are forcing their mothers to make a choice between staying in the relationship and the life of their unborn child
– The women who are sexually active because they are searching for the love of a man, missing the love of their own father who has abandoned them physically or maybe just emotionally
– The men who don’t know how to be fathers because their father was never there for them
– The women who are raising children on their own because the father is no longer around
– The women who chose abortion to keep the man but the man left them anyhow, either out of his own selfishness or due to the guilt of the abortion destroying their relationship
Maybe you are thinking of the ways in which you reach out to orphans and widows in your community. That is good news for us then, right? But wait a second. Before we take too much pride in what God has called us to do and given us opportunity to do, there is more to this Scripture. James says that our religion is worthless if we cannot keep a tight rein on our tongue. Ouch! We don’t serve a God who is looking for more good works than sinful deeds. Our religion is not one where we just need to make sure the good outweighs the bad. We serve a God who is calling us to holiness – to a Spirit-filled life that guides both our actions and our words.
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor” – well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear? – James 2:1-7
It is amazing how the people of the first century have the same natural tendencies as the people of the 21st century. I guess that should not surprise me since we were all born with the same sinful nature. Humans have a tendency to treat people differently – preference, prejudice, favor, stereotyping, assumptions, racism. If someone possesses something we esteem, we are naturally drawn to them. That could be physical beauty, clothing, designer shoes or purses, athleticism, jewelry, talent, celebrity status, intelligence, money, or a dynamic personality. It is all favoritism and it is all sin, and my guess is we are all guilty.
Let’s look at verse 5 again: Listen my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? Over and over again, Scriptures shows that those who are poor by the world’s standards are more easily drawn toward God. Because they have less to hold on to, they tend to trust God with more of their life.
Lord, please fill me with your Spirit today. Give me the strength to listen to your Spirit’s leading and hold back any words that are not pleasing to you. May my mouth be an instrument for you today and not a tool for the devil. Lord, bring the words of James to my mind today when I am faced with an opportunity to let the Spirit guide me. May I trust you with more and hang on to less! Amen.