Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
That is an amazing and powerful scripture! The most pure religious acts that please the Father God are visiting orphans and widows in their affliction, and keeping ourselves uncorrupted by the world. Two actions that honor God and please Him---and yet, most of us read that and move on without a thought.
As Christians, we often discuss keeping ourselves undefiled by the world. We really pay attention to that one and do our best to keep our lives pure, even when it’s very difficult. But how many times have you stayed awake at night thinking up ways to care for orphans and widows? Be honest. This is important to God, but it doesn’t appear to be all that high on our priority list.
Some of us send a few dollars here and there to third world countries with starving orphans, or we spend two days a year packing some food boxes for kids in our own country. I think God expects just a little more. If we stop to seriously consider orphans and widows, and actually pray for them, the Holy Spirit might possibly put a little heavier burden on our hearts. He might open our eyes to how desperately they need our love.
Orphans grow up with needs that go beyond food and clothing. Those are important, but their spiritual and emotional needs must be covered with love and prayer. They are the future. They are the people who will be leaders, teachers, presidents perhaps, and parents. Their development matters. Their ethics, morals, principles and spiritual lives matter very much. How can we be too busy to care?
Then there are the widows. Do you know a widow? Probably. What is life like for a widow? What does she need in her affliction, (the Bible calls it). How could her life be fuller and more joyful? Do we care? God does. Is He pleased that we are too busy and pre-occupied to take the time for a widow? Wouldn’t this also apply to a single mom, a caregiver of a disabled person, or an elderly, or lonely person? God cares and we need to as well.
I am writing this for myself, not just to you. That verse jumped out at me a few days ago and I knew I needed to repent. I knew that it was time for me to stop and take the time to pray and care and do something for orphans and widows. Not just to earn God’s favor---which it probably will when done with a loving heart and right attitude---but because these are human beings who need love and attention. They need God’s touch which comes through us. This, the verse says, is pure religion.