James 1:27 (AMP)
Pure and unblemished religion [as it is expressed in outward acts] in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit and look after the fatherless and the widows in their distress, to keep oneself uncontaminated by the [secular] world.
Huh? What does this verse from Jesus’ brother James mean for us? Well, in Jesus’ day, wives and children had only their husbands and male relatives to keep them safe, fed, and out of terrible poverty. If their husbands died, they were completely helpless. James adds that we are to stay uncontaminated by the outside world that doesn’t recognize God as Lord.
The following verses in Deuteronomy tell what God commanded his people to do for those who could not care for themselves.
28 “At the end of every third year, bring the entire tithe of that year’s harvest and store it in the nearest town. 29 Give it to the Levites, who will receive no allotment of land among you, as well as to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, so they can eat and be satisfied. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all your work.”
James explains the concept of religion and faith as two sides of the same coin. Faith is our deepest core belief that God’s love now lives in us because we have accepted his gift of forgiveness for our sins and eternity with him. This gift was only made possible because of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son. In other words, Jesus took the punishment we deserved for our sins, in our place. Accepting that gift saved us from an eternity in hell. On the reverse side of that coin, God calls us—his children—to show others his love by serving our fellow man, selflessly, and in his name.
Thankfully, as we grow in our faith, God grows our desire and ability to help others in both small and large ways. For example, on a nasty winter day walking home from school, the sidewalk was icy and treacherous. I noticed three adults standing around looking down at an elderly man lying on the sidewalk pleading with them to help him up. They stood there debating whether or not they should! I bent down and helped him up. As I walked him back home, he told me he left unescorted and had fallen only a block away. I rang the bell, explained our adventure, and said farewell. During that 10-minute encounter, God taught me to always be prepared for opportunities to show Christ’s love through my actions and words.
There are so many opportunities here at CedarCreek to grow your serving muscles. You can become a world-class example of Christ’s love any day of the week. We have a bed-making and delivery ministry for children without beds and a car care ministry. We join with other churches to feed folks who don’t have enough. At the South Toledo Campus, we host a medical team from UTMC every week to attend to the medical needs of the neighborhood. So many more ways to help are available! Check out our website at CedarCreek.tv/serve or ask your campus pastor for more opportunities to live out your God-ordained mission with us.
Why? Because by sharing our faith with and caring, serving, and providing for people in need, we emulate Christ’s great and perfect love for us all. Grow your faith—start right now by becoming the hands and feet of Christ every day. You will never be bored, you will grow in love and relationship with God, and your life will definitely be a blessing to others.
What excuses do you make for not leaving your comfort zone to show and share with others the amazing love God has shown you?
Why do you think you succumb to fear or indifference when it comes to serving?
Want to dig deeper? For more on James 1:26-27 watch https://www.crossridgechurch.ca/podcasts/media/2016-11-20-james-1-26-27. It’s a sermon on this very topic recorded on Nov. 20, 2016, by Church Planting Apprentice Matt Glezos from Crossridge Church in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Take a tiny step out of your comfort zone—even if you have to “do it afraid,” do it for Christ. Serve someone, anyone, with your only motivation being to bless that person and show them God’s love in action. Then thank the Lord for allowing you to be in the right place at the right time.
Lord, I am so sorry it has taken me so long to become a consistent blessing to others. You are such a kind and patient father. Thank you for all the lessons you put in my path in order to show me this is your gift to me as your child—to help, lead, and bless others in your name. I thank you in Jesus’ name, amen.
This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.
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