Our Scripture for today is:
James 1:26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
It seems James here is speaking of the term “religious” in a way that refers to its outward observances… He certainly challenges us to turn our concepts upside-down! Usually we think of being “religious” as “going to church” and “being nice” to others… But here he proposes that our Christian life is more defined by things like keeping a tight reign on the tongue (as Luther put it in the small Catechism: “explain everything in the kindest way”), works of mercy toward others in need, and keeping yourself from being polluted by the world. In other words: Faith in ACTION! I am sure that James is not indicating that “going to church” is not a worthy and important activity, but I pray that we all agree that “going to church” is not simply an end in itself in the worship of God, but ALSO a MEANS to living out a Christian life every day! It is the donning of the armor of God; It is the hearing of the comfort of the Gospel and the Final Victory of Christ; it is the equipping of the saints for the battle against our sinful selves and the work of the devil in the world!
Today we must examine our hearts and our lives and continually ask God for the forgiveness of our failings, and the strength to carry out TRUE religion!