Loving Fellow Believers
Verse 27 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 reminded us of the need to control our tongue to give evidence to the role that the Lord has in our lives. James follows that important reminder with what God sees as righteous living.
You would think that a list of things God looks for in His people would be a list that every Christian would know by heart but when was the last time you heard a sermon on this list or saw a Christian friend post it on social media? Why should such a list be so elusive among God’s people?
This is a short list with seemingly unconnected items and yet they each reveal a spectrum of loving that Jesus listed. First, we are to love God with all our heart and secondly we are to love others as ourselves. James has the order flipped but it still shows the importance of His instructions about living outside ourselves. It takes not being a worshiper of self.
First let’s look at what it means to take care of the widows and orphans. This singles out the most vulnerable groups of the times. The widows were at the mercy of their family and if they didn’t have descendants they would have an even harder life. The orphans faced similar issues, neither the widows nor orphans could wholly care or provide for themselves. Both would be destitute if not for those God sent to help them.
These are the people that the Holy Spirit inspired James to write about. This wasn’t a call to develop a new project of a welfare system. That isn’t the point here at all. Remember that James was writing to Jewish believers. They had been taught through the years how to care for fellow Jews but James knew that God was, and is, wanting more from His people.
Jesus said that people would know His followers by their love for one another (John 13:35). At another time Jesus said that when we care for others it is as if we are caring for Him (Matthew 25:35-45). This is the very thing we need to remember as we care for our fellow believers, especially those who are most vulnerable. When we are caring for them, it is as if we are caring for the Lord.
Making It Personal
Have you ever helped others that were in need? Did it have a positive impact on you? How can you help someone today?
Making It Personal Kids
What are some ways you can help someone? When have you helped someone? What does your helping someone tell Jesus about you?
Father, forgive us for not caring for the widows and orphans as You desire. Give us wisdom and discernment. In Jesus’ name, amen.