Meditation Commentary on James 1:26-27
26If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
What is one of the main ways that someone determines what another person is like? What is one of the main ways that someone can know that I, as a Christian, am different from everyone else? What is one of the main ways that someone can be hurt by another? What is one of the main ways that someone can be encouraged by another? This main thing that I am thinking of is our speech.
The phrase often used by children, “Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, is one of the most untrue phrases that I know of! Language is an incredibly powerful tool in our world that can easily be used for good or for bad. If you were to ask someone, “who is the person that has made the biggest impact on your life, and how was that made?” chances are, it would have something to do with what that individual said to him or her.
In meditating on James 1:26-27, two primary things jumped out to me: Religion and bridling of the tongue. I had the question, “what is James speaking of when he uses the words, “religious” and “religion”?
Verse 26 is very straight-forward in addressing our speech. It basically says that if we don’t bridle our tongue, we aren’t religious. The word, “religious” comes from the Greek word, “threskos,” which also means “pious.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines pious as, “marked by reverence for deity: DEVOUT”. Also, the word, “religion” comes from the Greek word, “threskeia,” which also means “worshipping”. Therefore, if I don’t bridle my tongue, I am not fully devoted to God and the worship that I offer to Him is useless. Wow! These thoughts are quite convicting. Do I take my every thought, word and action captive for Christ, or do I have a slanderous tongue that is not uplifting to others?
Verse 27 is an incredible key to the Christian life! It clearly answers the question of what pure and undefiled religion is. According to the meaning of “religion” spoken of in the previous paragraph, James is speaking of worship in this case. When I am reaching out to widows and orphans and striving to live like Christ, I am actually worshipping God. How often I lose sight of the things of the Lord. It is so easy to become selfish and not even give thought to people who need to be reached out to and loved.
In a nutshell, this passage tells us that, in order to worship God, and be devoted to him, we must guard our every word, reach out to the lonely and hurting, and strive to live like Christ.