I am going to take two blog posts to talk about James 1:27 because I want to look at the two components of pure religion: care for widows and orphans, and separation. Today’s topic: looking after orphans and widows.
James 1:27: “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.”
In Bible times, orphans and widows were helpless people; they were the poorest of the poor; beggars. They were examples of needy people. Today, there are needy people all around us. Orphans and widows for sure. But what about homeless people? Refugees fleeing war torn countries? The economically disenfranchised? The sick? I believe all of these could potentially be grouped in with orphans and widows who need us to look after them in their distress.
You should notice how James refers to God in this verse… FATHER. Fathers are supposed to care for those around them who need help.
What does it mean to look after them? It means visit them, care for them, supply their need (before your own), demonstrate sincere interest (after all, they have no material possessions to pay you back with), and sacrificially love them. We do this regardless of the source of their distress. They may be physically oppressed, mentally disturbed, socially or economically degraded. Whatever the cause, we are called to be there for them. Love is simply meeting needs.
Deuteronomy 10:18: “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”
On any given day, there are around 443,000 kids in the foster system. The average time “in the system” is two years. There are also enough “guest bedrooms” in the United States to solve the orphan and homeless problem overnight.
Christians, we must do better.
Some questions to consider:
-Do you have the means to help orphans?
-Do you know of any widows who could use a phone call or gift?
-Who are some “needy people” that you could serve today?