Pure and genuine religion ...

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 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. -James 1:26-27 NLT

The word 'religion' comes with all kinds of negative connotations. The religion of Islam was dragged through the mud when terrorists flew planes into skyscrapers in New York City. The Christian religion was slimed by the extramarital affairs of televangelists in the 1980s. In my own life I have steered away from being a 'religious' person even though I did all the things that one associates with being religious. I guess there is just something Pharisaical about the word.

In these few sentences James tells us what it means to be religious and what genuine religion looks like to God. He begins with a full-on assault of our self-righteousness when he tells us how worthless our religion is when we speak things that embarrass our religion. The last sentence of this passage reminds me that pure and genuine religion is wrapped up in one word - love. When we love we do not hurt others with our tongue but bless them with our deeds.

Help us Lord. We have been corrupted by the world. Lead us in ways that bless the ones who need love the most.

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