Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pure Religion

I remember while I was growing up hearing my mom and others talk about people who went to church or believed in God and saying that they were "religious". ("Oh, yes, she's very religious.") In later years, the term "is religious" (at least in my church) has become sort of a "dirty" word. I think the reason for this is that so many people who were thought to be religious talked the talk of being a follower of Christ but did not walk the walk. You can be religous about anything. I am very religious about eating non-GMO food, taking pharmaceutical drugs, and brushing my teeth. The word "religious" has taken on a dogmatic feel and a sense of being under the law instead of being under grace.

So, it came as a little bit of a surprise to me this morning as I was reading my Bible to come across the terms "religious" and "religion" in the book of James. I love the book of James. It speaks to many things in my heart: 1) Being happy when you are being tested because it teaches you patience; the end being that trials and patience in them brings you to a place of perfection and completeness; 2) When you ask God for something, i.e., wisdom, make sure you are asking with complete faith that he will give it to you because if you aren't sure you really even believe that God can or will give it to you, you shouldn't even think that God would give you anything; and 3) Sin results from lusting for something (either a fleshly want or a materialistic want) and letting it take hold in your mind and take hold of you until you are going to have that thing no matter what the consequences and when you let that happen, the sinning gets easier and easier until it brings about death. And there are lots more golden nuggets like those in the book of James, and I suppose that's why I find myself in that book so often.

But, somehow I had never picked up on James 1:26, 27 which says:
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion [is] vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.

I love that phrase "seem to be religious", don't you? There's quite a difference between being religious and seeming to be religious, but if you want people to believe your testimony, you should definitely learn to control your tongue because it's going to tell on you. A person who claims to love the Lord and still feels like it's okay to go around gossiping, swearing, telling lies, bragging, being disrespectful, etc., certainly shows his true colors and loses all credibility with those people he has informed of his "religiosity" and so it become "vain" or useless.

True "religion" as defined by God's Word is to control your tongue, offer service to others and to be separate from the world.

These verses stopped me short today and made me examine myself to see if I am walking the walk and talking the talk. I love it when the Word does that because we are told in Hebrews 4:12:

For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

How are you doing in bridaling your tongue?

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