James 1:26-27

26Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27Religion 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.


If you ask students, “What do you want me to pray for you?” they readily answer, “Pray for our preparation for exams.” Examinations are vital to evaluate competence. If examinees get passing grades, they can move onto the next level of learning. Everyone wish to pass! Some have cheated to get passing grades or to have better grades. They may not even realize it, but cheaters deceived themselves. Maybe, they are pressured by parents; or they just want to get passing or better grades to impress their peers.

Every moment of our life as Christians, the Lord examines us. He arranged series of pleasant and unpleasant events and situations for testing. Problems similar to what had been encountered in the past will happen again. Make sure we learn from it! If we struggle and not ready for problems, it reminds us to pray for stronger faith in the Lord until joy and peace prevail in us. Get ready! Testing of faith in Christ happens anytime.

Have you heard of a perfect church? Listen: Do you believe God is perfect? Yes! Do you believe Christ is God? Yes! So, Christ is perfect, right? Yes! Ephesians 4:11-13 says: 11Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

The whole measure of the fullness of Christ is the perfection that we must attain.

Jesus Christ is perfect God; and, his choice of church leaders perfectly fits the need of each local church. The Lord has expected that all believers will be equipped and get involved in ministry works, not just one time, but until we grow spiritually mature. And eventually, we are unified in our faith and personal knowledge of Christ.

Involvement in religious ministries should exhibit our belief in God. The Lord may delight in honest religiously acceptable to him or we may have deceived ourselves.  Which religiosity is acceptable to the Lord? They are recorded in the Scripture. To read or listen to the Scripture and disregard what it says, we deceive ourselves.

1.  Deceive

26Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

The term “rein” pertains to leather strap used to control the movement of a horse. And, the phrase “do not keep a tight rein on their tongues” symbolically pertain to individuals who don’t control, realize or choose what they should say. Most often, negative words are spoken out of anger; and, they are not filtered or sorted out.

When out of anger, we blurt out negative words, we cheated on ourselves. Why?

Religiosity that’s acceptable to God doesn’t include negative words. If Christ lords over us, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control prevail in us. But when human anger lords over us and not Christ, we are deceived, right?

Well, God allows others to irritate and annoy us, why? He tests of our spirituality. Many examinees fail their exam because they don’t read the instruction. Similarly, many Christians fail to move on the next level of spirituality, why? They don’t read instruction from the Lord recorded in the Scripture. It reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21, 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

When we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, the Lord transformed us into new creation. Are you transformed? Godly lifestyle of righteousness proves practical transformation into new creation. We are reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ. And, God appointed believers as ambassadors for Christ for what? To implore and tell others to be reconciled to God, as if God himself appeals through us!

So, when we do not practice what we learn from the Scripture, we cheated on ourselves. How? When we disobey the Lord, we miss our opportunity for blessing. The Scripture is spiritual mirror for us to see, evaluate and determine which lifestyle we should continue to practice or change. Make it your habit to frequently read your Bible.

There are various instances when Christians could unconsciously cheat in their practice of religion? How do Christians cheat religiosity? They just imitate the religiosity of others. Well, instructions of religiosity that the Lord accepts are recorded in the Scripture. Imitating biblical religiosity of others is not always acceptable to the Lord.

Why? Imitation of biblical religiosity is considered as cheating on their selves. How is that? If they do it with human effort or on their own human initiative! Really?


The Scripture teaches that God loves cheerful givers, not being compelled. When I was young believer, I gave my offering. I also gave coins to beggars. I was compelled to give offerings or alms because of my desire to impress others that, I’m generous fellow.

In this church, we encourage cheerful giving, not reluctant or under compulsion.

Don’t be compelled to give because the preacher says so; don’t give because your neighbor regularly gives. If you are reluctant or you have hesitation, don’t give. Does the Scripture say, “God loves all givers?” No! It says, “God loves cheerful givers.” Remember “cheerful!” so, when you give, make it sure that you sense cheerfulness or gladness.

Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches about giving in Mark 12:41-44, 41Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.

 42But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Can you identify how the rich people deceived themselves? The large amounts that the rich people gave were just a chunk or a very little portion of their wealth.

According to scholars, the rich slowly drop large amounts of coins in the temple treasury; and, of course, the louder the clinking could mean more coins were dropped. People who personally heard the clinking of coin could be impressed and talked about such generosity of the rich, but the Lord Jesus Christ was not very impressed with it.

In comparison, when the poor widow gave everything she had to live on, which were just two small copper coins that may only buy her one meal. But in the eyes of the Lord, the amount of money that the poor widow gave was larger and surpassed all the giving of the rich combined. Cheerfulness surpasses any amount given reluctantly.

Giving is practical expression of religiosity or faith in the Lord. And, when giving is mentioned, immediately, offering of finances comes to mind. One can give more; others can give less. And, we can also offer our time and talent to serve, and God loves cheerful givers. He also delights and accepts religiosity when serving him with purity of heart.

2.  Delight

27Religion 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.

The phrase, “keep oneself from being polluted by the world,” implies biblical religiosity and not just an imitation of practices from other religions in the world. Others help orphans and widows for selfie picture and upload in their social media accounts.

Helping orphans and widows should serve as testimony that life and mindset had been transformed by the Lord. And, that is the religiosity that God delights and accepts.

Being an orphan at a very young age or being very old widow can be very helpless situation. There are stories told about young orphans who were maltreated by relatives; and, there are also heartbreaking stories of helpless old widows who were neglected by their very own children. Nevertheless, our merciful God made it sure that he graciously blesses anybody who looks after or takes care of widows and orphans.

Listen: Do you have widow mother? Observe, examine and compare with your other siblings how you treat, care and respect your very own widow mother; the person who is very kind, generous and respectful to their widow mother is practically blessed much more than their siblings who disregard or disrespect their widow mother. Why?

The Spirit of God declared through King David in Psalm 68:4-5, 4Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. 5A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Sometimes, God allows orphans and widows around us, why? The Lord wants us to practice pure and faultless religiosity and also to bless us practically, as well.

Generosity and kindness to orphans and widows cause them to praise the Lord. God delights in religiosity that brings glory to his name; and certainly, the Lord blesses with practical things when he is delighted. Such biblical truth was proven by Abram.

When the Lord told Abram, “Go to the land I will show you!” he obeyed and took along with him his nephew Lot, who was an orphan. God blessed Abram abundantly.

It says in Genesis 13:5-6, 5Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together.

Lot had grown very wealthy and had his own family when he left his uncle Abram.

Wholesome care of orphans should not be limited to providing food for physical needs. It should include teaching good manners and spiritual matters. The Lord blessed anybody who resolves to become blessing to orphans in practicality and spirituality.

An exile named Mordecai took care of the well-being of his young cousin Esther, who was an orphan. Esther became queen; her manner and virtue were credited to her cousin foster father Mordecai. And, God blessed Mordecai; he was promoted to a very high office. It says in Esther 10:3, 3Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

How about widows? If God gives you an opportunity to take care of widows, he had already prepared a better future for you; when you honestly care for widows, God prepared the best lifestyle you can ever experience, even if you have financial shortage.


When there was a famine in the land of Israel, Naomi and her family migrated abroad to Moab. After many years, her husband and their two sons died. Naomi decided to return to the land of Israel; so, she instructed her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, to return to their parents’ home. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye; but, Ruth resolved in her heart not leave Naomi, who was old and well advanced in years.

Imagine this: If you were a young widow and no children, do you still want to live with your mother-in-law? Why did Ruth want to be with her mother-in-law, instead of going back to her own parent like her fellow widow Orpah? Did Naomi show kindness to her better than her parents? She decided to live with Naomi, her mother-in-law.

She pleaded in Ruth 1:16-17, 16Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

When Ruth resolved that where Naomi goes she will go, and where Naomi stays she will stay, it testifies to the joyful fellowship that Ruth had experienced while living with Naomi. Ruth may have heard about Israel, but she had never lived in the land of the Israelites. Here is a reality than we can learn from. Do you think Naomi treated Ruth better than Orpah so that, Orpah did not insist on staying with Naomi? It’s arguable!

But, when Ruth declared that she will treat Naomi’s people as her people, maybe, she presumed that the Israelites were like her own people the Moabites, or even better. And when Ruth declared that she will accept the God of Naomi, she observed, for sure, that Naomi was very religious, so that she would like also to worship the God of Naomi.

Naomi may have been kind to both Orpah and Ruth, but Ruth decided to live with Naomi because the Lord had already prepared great future for her. Can you accept that?

Before Orpah departed, Naomi clearly explained to them in Ruth 1:11-13, 11But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”

Naomi was very considerate of the future of her daughters-in-law; she practically displayed favorable kindness to both Orpah and Ruth. Well, it is possible that Orpah may have been younger than Ruth, and she wished to marry again. When Naomi said, “I’m too old,” it had caused Orpah to consider a better future elsewhere; so, she left Naomi.

In comparison, Ruth did not concern much about her future. Apparently, she was very concerned that Naomi was very old and needed some care. Naomi may have been very religious, so that Ruth was inspired to worship the God of Naomi; but, Orpah chose not. Another lesson we can learn here is, “Religious lifestyle may encourage observers to join us or may not; but, God has grand design for anyone who trusts in him.”

When Naomi and Ruth had arrived in Bethlehem, it was harvest time for barley.

Ruth did not waste time. She was a foreigner, but she did her best to find food for them. It says in Ruth 2:17-18, 17So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. 18She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.

An ephah of barley grains is about 30 pounds or 13 kilograms. That should be good enough supply for many days; and, Ruth also gave leftover bread for her mother-in-law. Truly, Ruth was very responsible and thoughtful. Undeniably, she was very kind and caring to her mother-in-law. Everyone in the neighborhood observed the sincere kindness of Ruth to Naomi. And, a man named Boas heard about it and married Ruth, eventually.

The Lord delights in pure and faultless religiosity. The kindness of Ruth to the old widow Naomi is a biblical example of pure and faultless religiosity that the Lord delights.

Ruth was also a widow without children; and, it is possible that Ruth was already an orphan; she had no more parents, so that she considered Naomi as her very own mother. Ruth was a Moabite widow and an orphan who decided to take care of a very old Israelite widow Naomi. God must have a plan for Ruth.

Eventually, Ruth was married to an Israelite named Boaz who was very wealthy and well-respected among his people. And subsequently, Ruth became the great great-grandmother of King David. If that was not enough blessing of God to her, the name of Ruth was also included in the list of genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wow!

Our personal reflection: If you show honest kindness to orphans or widows that the Lord may have given you as responsibility to take care… can you sincerely believe that the Lord had already prepared a wonderful life that you will ever experience?

In Canada, taking care of orphans and widows offers good income; but, be careful because there were instances when individuals had negative experiences also.

May our almighty God empower us to be more responsible as we practice our religiosity as practical manifestation of our faith in him! To God be glory forever!

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