“Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27 HCSB)

The working out of our faith has two elements that James emphasizes here, an element of doing and an element of being.

Doing: We are called to look after orphans and widows in their distress.  This acts as a summary statement of all the doing to which we are called in our devotion to our Lord.  The Tyndale Commentary puts it this way:  “The orphan and widow become types of those who find themselves helpless in the world. Christians whose religion is pure will imitate their Father by intervening to help the helpless. Those who suffer from want in the third world, in the inner city; those who are unemployed and penniless; those who are inadequately represented in government or in law – these are the people who should see abundant evidence of Christians’ ‘pure religion’.”

We do not have to be perfect at this, like we never make a mistake or miss someone we should have helped.  We are called to increase in service, to have an ever growing desire to help the helpless.

Being: The “being” element can be summarized in one word: holiness.  James calls us to keep oneself unstained by the world.  We ought to have an ever growing holiness grounded, not in how good we can become, but in our inward, God-granted desire to become more like our Lord.

Some Christians like to focus on the “doing” part, others like to focus on the “being” part.  James wants us to focus on both.

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