“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).
This is a teaching by James, an influential leader in the early church. Last week I highlighted what he meant by being “polluted by the world.”
Today let me focus on the other part of that sentence: “to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”
James wasn’t suggesting that these are the ONLY things which constitute “pure and faultless” religion. After all, he talks in many places about the importance of God’s word (like in James 1: 18, 21-23, etc), and also about the centrality of loving your neighbour as yourself (James 2:8).
But he most certainly goes out of his way to include the care of orphans and widows.
In the first century, if these groups didn’t have immediate family help, they would often be reduced to begging. There weren’t as many social supports as there are today, so their plight was even more dire and desperate.
Today, God’s people continue to help those who are powerless and vulnerable.
As you learn more about God and his will, think about those who are powerless and vulnerable, and then identify some practical ways you can help.
It’s not just about being helpful, but about being holy.
By Matthew Ruttan
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.