Read James 1:22-27
Throughout the centuries, religions have defined themselves in terms of rules concerning external conduct. Lists of do’s and don’ts have allowed people to quickly assess their standing. The person’s level of adherence to these rules was directly proportionate to the degree of pleasure that the “god” of that religion found in the person. Unfortunately, those in authority have then use these same lists to strengthen their own power and influence over the subordinates of that particular faith.
The God of the Bible operates differently, though.
Given man’s inability to keep the “rules” and measure up to His standard of holiness, He did for man what man was incapable of doing for himself. By sending His Son as the sacrifice for sin, God made a relationship and rightstanding with Himself possible. Indeed, this gift of grace is extended to all. However, only those who surrender themselves to it can experience it. By grace, God does for us what was impossible for us to do for ourselves.
Perhaps you concluded that the verses in today’s reading define a standard to be met in order to please God. A person must keep a tight rein on his/her tongue, care for widows and orphans, and live a life separated from the world. The person who does that is accepted by God. While that is one possible interpretation, it is inconsistent with the message of the rest of the Bible.
There is, however a more accurate interpretation. A person who has responded to Christ by faith and has been accepted by God will monitor his/her speech, care for others, and live differently from the world. These are characteristics of the fruit of genuine faith. They serve as evidence that the person has experienced true and authentic faith.
Acts like these should be the product of genuine faith. Does’t it make sense that those of us who are recipients of something we could not do for ourselves would seek to bless others with something they cannot do on their own?