True Religion

James 1:27

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

 I have spent much of my life feeling like a failure, but why? I hear sermons and read books, including the Bible, that tell me Jesus has already won. So why do I feel like I’m on the losing end of life’s stick? I cannot blame it on my family, my spouse, my job, my education, or my circumstances – in all of those, even in the tough times, I have been blessed. I have never gone hungry without choosing to (aka fasting), so why do I feel like a failure?

 The truth is, the reason I have felt like a failure is I told myself, because I wasn’t better, or better off, or I had made mistakes, I was a failure.  Did you catch that?  I told myself I was a failure. I said that to myself because I had a false religion.

What is a religion?  The biblical definition of religion is, “Belief in and worship of God or gods. A person whose religion is genuine will show through attitude and actions, a depth of commitment to the one worshiped.”[i]

My false religion had me worshiping or aspiring to something that meant absolutely nothing God had intended for my life. When that happens, I suffer from false religion. Essentially, feeling I had not achieved a certain status or security meant I was indeed worshiping and lifting up the importance of status and security to a level I should have been reserving for God.

He is the source of my status; I am nothing without Him. He is the source of my security; I am not secure without Him. If I have true religion, I cannot be a failure because that would be tantamount to calling God a failure!

So how do I show my true religion?  As the text says, pure and genuine religion (true religion) means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  That two-part verse is challenging. First, as a believer, I must care for those who need my assistance. I have skills, talents, and abilities; God gave them to me. I must use them to care for others. Second, I must refuse to let the world corrupt me (this is where false religion comes from).

These do not have to be hard. The enemy wants us to believe that caring for others or doing what God has created us to do is difficult. That is far from the truth. When you are in God’s will and serving those in need, it is the easiest thing to do. “Hard” is when you are outside of His will and fall victim to false religion.

You are not a failure. Believe it. And now… Act on it!

 –   Scott Beiermann

 [i] Karen Dockrey, Johnnie C. Godwin, and Phyllis Godwin, Holman Student Bible Dictionary (Nashville, Tenn: Holman Bible Publishers, 1993), 201.

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