Lately I have been stuck on the first few chapters of James. I cannot seem to get past them. I read them over and over as if I have never seen before. I know I have read James in the past and yet it never sunk so deeply into my soul until now.
James 1:27 “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.”
I almost feel ashamed to admit it, but I honestly feel as though this actually is the first time I have read it. I always knew it was something good to help those less fortunate, but I also viewed it as something above and beyond and likewise held those who did to be more honorable than the rest, definitely more honorable than me. Of course, I would feel the guilt when passing on an opportunity to feed the homeless or something of the like. Along with the guilt came the constant feeling that I just never had it right, this Christian thing. I remember always second guessing myself, when I did something right, “well, that was good, but I’m sure it was not exactly what God wanted,” or “I just didn’t pray enough or read my Bible enough this week.” Though sometimes I actually don’t do those things enough, I’d never shake that thought or feeling. I didn’t realize the difference between knowing my unworthiness in light of His worthiness and feeling like I can never do anything right. I just couldn’t grasp that. I was taught by some, or it was implied heavily, that if you are not out there “witnessing,” (what I attribute to as cold-calling people), trying to win them to Jesus everywhere you go, then you are not living right. But there was not a lot of emphasis put on orphans, widows, the homeless, etc. So I just never thought it was “as important.” (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming everything on others, I am responsible for myself, I’m just having a revelation here.)
So then in reading James lately, its been opening my eyes, convicting me and bringing things into focus; how important this is, how it’s so vital. With salvation being the main goal, this is how we point others to Him. We do it with our lives, our actions, not with just our words. James 2:18-19 says “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” We cannot separate the two, it doesn’t work for us, for God or for others.
It’s not just for those with a stellar record to feed the homeless, to adopt orphans, to serve the lesser of these, it’s for all of us, its common, its normal. It’s amazing how God uses His word to not only bring to life what is printed in front of you, but also to shed light on other areas in your life. During this time of God revealing His heart to me, it just clicked, it has loosened that anxiety, that feeling of never getting it right. I am His, He has adopted me, this is how He wants me to live and that’s what I’ll strive to do every day.