James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James is giving a picture of what true religion looks like. Many of the early church Christians would still have seen the Pharisees as a model for what their religion was to look like. But they were much more hearers and talkers, than doers.
James talks about the tongue and that we should not be quick to speak. He talks about not being angry and that we should receive the Word, not just to receive it and say, "Oh that is nice", or "Yeah, so and so needs to hear that", but receiving it in a way that we hold our own lives up to it and intently examine if we are the type of people the Bible calls us personally to be.
I find it interesting that James boils it all down into 1/2 of a verse. If you want to have pure religion, take care of widows and orphans and keep yourself unstained from the world.
That seems like a very condensed set of "rules" to live by, but maybe there is more to it. Keeping ourselves unstained by the world is pretty much a full time job that we will never complete while here on earth; so that one is tough. What about widows and orphans? Does James really mean that we are all to take care of widows and orphans? I guess he could be saying that we are to all to be sacrificial in a way that could be helpful to the care of widows and orphans, but it really seems he is saying that we are to care for them, personally; to actually take an interest in their well being and then do something about it.
There are many people that would have a difficult time, right now, in caring personally for an orphan or a widow, but there may be ways to facilitate that without actually having them in your home.
Teresa and I went to a fund raiser last night with some people who are going to pick up their second adoptive child in about a month. These people don't have lots of money, they don't drive fancy cars or live in fancy houses, but they are following the directive James gives here by sacrificing much to bring a child into their home that would otherwise have no home.
What can we do? What impact can we make if the time is not right to bring either a widow or an orphan into our homes? Very tangibly we can give money and food to those who are able to care for them. We talked to a lady who has 4 adoptive kids and none of her own; the oldest is around 7, the youngest around 4. She is not only busy with normal things, but the kids all have to go to some kind of extra treatment sessions for many medical issues, speech, or emotion trauma- from living w/o any real connection for the first years of their lives, they have serious detachment issues as they only know what has happened in the past- someone takes them in and then they end up back in an orphanage; those kinds of things.
I guess I am just trying to think electronically through what God is calling us to do. "How will they hear w/o a preacher?" and what if the "preacher" is their new adoptive family? Think about bringing a soul into your home that would probably never hear the Gospel and you get, how ever many years you have with them, to show them the love of Christ that they would not get to see in their former situation.
If we are not in a position to bring one into our home, the cost currently is $20k plus and maybe we should help facilitate an adoption for someone who really can't afford it but is ready and willing to make that happen.
Just some thoughts running through my mind this beautiful Saturday morning. I know there are some adoptive parents who read this blog occasionally and I would love to hear your take on this subject.