James 1:26-27 CEB “If those who claim devotion to God don’t control what they say, they mislead themselves. Their devotion is worthless. True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.”
When I was preparing for the sermon last week, these verse really stuck with me. I felt like I needed to say so much in the sermon; but then I looked at the scripture again and felt the Spirit leading me to focus on these verses.
I’ll begin by asking the questions that I asked on Sunday in worship:
Who are the widows?
Who are the orphans?
A reason that I did not mention on Sunday these two groups of people are mentioned here is that they did not have any legal help. They were basically on their own. James is reminding his readers how important it is for Christians to stand up and help those who cannot help themselves.
Let’s add another layer to this. Who are the widows? A widow is a person who has lost a significant other in their life (i.e. spouse). So I would ask the question, “does a spouse have to die in order for someone to be a widow?” I don’t believe so. I believe there are also spiritual widows as well. Think of people who have lost a connection with their spouse. Think of spouses who have shut down and caused their wives (or husbands) to lose faith in them. Think of those who have been cut down or abused. These are also widows (in a spiritual, emotional sense) I believe we should look after as well.
Who are orphans? We know that orphans are children (or adults) who have lost their parents due to death. In some countries, children are considered orphans if their father has left them. Again, let’s add another layer to this. Does someone have to lose their parents physically to be considered and orphan? What about those who are spiritual orphans? There are many people who walk around who have both their parents but have lost a relationship with them for whatever reason. There are people who have lost “parents in the faith.” I believe there are many spiritual orphans out there as well.
James says that true devotion is taking care of the widows and orphans. We can also say that true devotion is caring for and about those God cares about (no matter life circumstances) and acting upon it. We constantly seek and work in opportunities to help people with physical needs so they can live; but also offer mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual help and guidance as well.
Our challenge as we continue in this journey is to all the Word of God to transform us. To be doers and not just hearers of the Word. To be the creations God is calling us to be.
I invite you to take time to read the entirety of chapter 1. Click here for the chapter in full context.
Lord, thank you for the chance to see the world through Your eyes. Break my heart for what breaks Yours and help me act and step out to live the life You have called me to live. I can do this with You. Amen.
NEXT WEEK we begin the journey in James 2:1-17 “What Matters Most?”