“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 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.” (James 1:26-27)
Your tongue is a small body part, it’s classified as a muscular organ. It has thousands of taste buds, which are nerve-like cells that are connected to nerves that run to the brain. Along with the opportunity to taste things with your tongue, you’re also able to speak with your tongue too. Have you ever noticed that when you speak, your tongue moves in your mouth to form words? The tongue came with a lot of different skills.
James says that if we can’t control our own tongue, but we call ourselves religious, then we are deceiving ourselves. Jesus said that from the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34 “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” It’s important that we examine our hearts. The core of what we say is being formed in our hearts. The heart is the word factory.
Cursing is a big thing that people do. No matter who you are, everyone has cursed. I even heard pastors on stage use “Christian style curse words”. They do it for the laughs in the audience.
Being in the marines and a uber driver, your buttons get pushed, mostly on uber trips. Other drivers are just crazy and sometimes I say a few choice words in my mind. Do you ever notice that when you curse, most of the time it’s when you’re mad? Anger plays a role in your ungodly speech. Harvesting anger and bitterness in your heart will be what produces words that you may not want to be speaking, but you still speak.
Controlling what we say is a key part of living the Christian Experience. It starts with examining yourself. Look at your Heart, ask yourself, “Why am I angry?
Address that anger. Maybe it’s time to seek forgiveness or it’s time to forgive someone else. Most of the time that we are angry is because someone else offended us and we just haven’t let go of the offense, because we think that someone owes us. We think that if we hold on this that offense, that somehow they are going to be punished, but in reality, it’s us that are hurt. We make ourselves into a prisoner of our own minds.
This next part of what James said seems off as we read it. “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.”
Reading back through this book, revising it. I get to this part and I am trying to understand why James put both these verses next to each other. First he talks about what we say and then he starts talking about what we do.
We already covered what we say. Now, what do we do? This one, I took a few days to think about, I wanted to make sure I explained this the best way possible. First, this verse doesn’t mean what you think it means. We can read over this verse and think, “Is James saying we have to shut off our lives to the outside world and live in a group home taking care of windows and small kids?” No, he isn’t, he is using this as a picture or an example of how we need to live our life.
Sorry Watermark Community Church, but I’m going to use you as an example of what not to do. By now, you should now that homelessness was part of my story. I slept outside Watermark for 3 years. The first year, I was a member. The church didn’t help me, but the cops came all the time waking me up at 2 am, harrassing me. Recently I learned of two other people that they too got no help from watermark when they faced hard times. Watermark Pastor Todd Wagner told the church many times how Watermark will help its members if they become homeless, but now I’m learning, I wasn’t the only member they turned a blind eye to.
A few times I was offered help by close friends, food, and money which one time when my car broke down. Now I’m back up and I have a place to live, hearing about this person about to be homeless, I told them, my door is wide open.
Warning From the Bible
The bible warns us against not helping other people. Proverbs 21:13
“Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.” This verse doesn’t say, “you might” or “if you ever”, it says, “will also cry out”. The bible is making a promise that if we refuse to help others in their time of need, we are going to find ourselves in need and not have any help.
Think about it. Say one day your friend becomes homeless and you tell them that you can’t help them and you make up a reason why you can’t help. What do you think will happen if you become homeless and you turn to get help? Your friend might just be in a position to help you, but what’s the chances that they will help you when you never helped them? I mean, would you help someone that refused to help you when you were in the same boat they are now in? We can also look at this from a cultural standpoint. Like watermark, that church teaches their members not to help homeless people. The culture of that church is shaped by this agreement that helping other people in need is a bad thing or an unbiblical action. I heard the Pastor preach this a few years back.
Jesus addressed this topic too. In Luke 10. The “experts” of the law came asking Jesus, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”. They asked this question to try to get Jesus to say something that they can convict him and put him to death because Jesus was leading a new movement. The “experts” didn’t like his new movement.
Jesus doesn’t answer his question though, instead he told the experts of the law, “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”. This is Jesus being funny, “You’re the expert, you should know.”
Mr. Expert tells Jesus the answer, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”.
Now that Mr. Expert knows that he didn’t get Jesus the 1st time, he tries a 2nd time, and this time he says, “And who is my neighbor?”.
Then Jesus tells a story that so many of us heard in Sunday school growing up. Luke 10:30-35 “In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho”. Jesus starts with using a men that was most likely a Jew. A Jew that “was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.”.
Jesus said a Priest and a Levite walk by and see this man on the side of the road and they didn’t help. Now think about this. There is a Jew on the side of the road dying and two people in the jewish culture walk by the men and do nothing to help. Most likely the reason they walked by was because it was forbidden for a Priest and a Levite, Levite were the tribes of priests that God set up in the Old Testament. It was forbidden to touch the dead, so this guy could have been so beaten that he might have looked dead.
Well, Jesus is telling this to the “Expert of the Law”, he might be a Priest or a Levite and Jesus is putting the expert right into the story. “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”. Samaritans were the jews’ enemies. This Samaritan “Took pity on him”. The rest of this story is all about how this man went far beyond his way and helped this other man.
How many homeless people have you passed by today on the street corners, under highways and you feel bad inside, but didn’t do anything to help them?
Do you want to call yourself Christian? Do you want to live that life that Jesus is calling us to? You have to step out of your own comfort zone and help other people who are in need. It’s literally a calling to every Christian.
I was on this part of this book about four days ago, I didn’t know how I would write this, but two days ago, I learn about my friend and about watermark and then this story pop up in my mind and I was able to think it through and chew on it for a day or two. I hope this has bless you. Let’s Seek God and Know God, by His Truth, not by what our pastor thinks the truth is. I think Pastors should stop being sell-outs and just preach the bible for face value.
God never created people to do life alone. When he made the world and created Adam, he said, “It’s not good for man to be alone”. Everything was good, except for Adam being alone. Genesis 2:18, The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”.
In the Hebrew the word that shows up for “Man” is “הָֽאָדָם֙”. Do you notice how the text says “Man” and not “Men”? “Men” in Hebrew is spelled, “אֲנָשִׁ֑ים”. Two very different words. A lot of people read over this verse thinking not God is saying, “It’s not good for a guy, a male, to be alone.” That’s not what this text is saying, God is saying it’s not good for a human to be alone. People were created to do life together. We are called ‘To Gather’ with one another, at the kitchen table, in church, at work, at the park, wherever. Our own government knows how true this is. There is a prison sentence called solitary confinement. It’s worse than death, this prison sentence drives people insane.
Solomon spoke about this in Ecclesiastes 4:7-8, Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless – a miserable business!
Okay, so really the last few weeks I have been thinking exactly this. I have no wife, kids, no one. I have been wondering, what is the point of anything I am doing in life? I know this verse so personally. I can say, It hurts not having a family of my own.
God made it clear that it’s not good for man to be alone. It’s not part of the design. The solution is to do life together. Marriage is a call that God laid on the lives of everyone on earth. Yes, some people are single and feel called to be single, but I personally feel God wanted everyone to have a wife or husband and kids. Eccl 4:9-12, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
At first we look at this verse and we think “cool”! A lot of people miss one thing this verse says, “A Cord of Three Strands is not quickly broken”. What does that mean? In a marriage relationship you and your spouse need to both have faith in the same creator and follow him. God must be the centerpiece of your marriage. Marriage is hard, it’s a war zone at times. 50% of marriages fail in the USA. That is why we need to fight hard for our marriages and trust and lean on God with our spouses.
The reason marriages fail is because people get married for sexual reasons and not for spiritual convictions. Only 2% of your life in marriage will be sex time in your marriage life. Did you know if you move in with your girlfriend or boyfriend before you two get married, chances of divorce doubled? If you marry a non-believer, your kids might never know God and may even end up in jail. Pick your spouse wisely.
People are scared to get married in our generation. They say it’s too much money! A lot of marriages fail because they spend a lot of money on the wedding and then that causes them to enter into debt starting off in marriage. It’s great, go enjoy your honeymoon, but not at the expense of your credit and finances.
If the two love each other, he loves her and she loves him, that is all that really matters. Buy a nice ring and find a pastor that will conduct a nice wedding that won’t cost too much. Create a budget for your 1st, 2nd even 3rd year of marriage, before getting married. Most of all, have a Marriage Grounded within a Faith in God and not just in Love with each other.
James says, “to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”. If we step outside God’s Word and stop taking the advice from his Written Word, we are only going to harm ourselves.
You want to spend your life savings on the best wedding in the world, go for it, but when you find yourself divorced for financial reasons, don’t blame God for it. You want to have sex outside marriage, don’t blame God when you are paying child support or when you can no longer pursue your education or finish high school, because now you have a baby to take care of. Don’t blame God when you are fired from your job because you don’t listen to your boss. God tells us over and over in his Written Word, how to conduct our lives. Don’t blame him if you get STDs or HIV after having same-sex relationships, he warns against that in His Written Word.