Religion that God our Father accepts . . . is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27
The summer after my sophomore year of college, a classmate died unexpectedly. I’d seen him just a few days prior and he looked fine. My classmates and I were young and in what we thought was the prime of our lives, having just become sisters and brothers after pledging our respective sorority and fraternity.
But what I remember most about my classmate’s death was witnessing my fraternity friends live out what the apostle James calls “genuine religion” (James 1:27 nlt). The men in the fraternity became like brothers to the sister of the deceased. They attended her wedding and traveled to her baby shower years after her brother’s death. One even gifted her a cell phone to contact him whenever she needed to call.
True religion, according to James, is “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (v. 27). While my friend’s sister wasn’t an orphan in the literal sense, she no longer had her brother. Her new “brothers” filled in the gap.
And that’s what all of us who want to practice true and pure life in Jesus can do—“do what [Scripture] says” (v. 22), including caring for those in need (2:14–17). Our faith in Him prompts us to look after the vulnerable as we keep ourselves from the negative influences of the world as He helps us. After all, it’s the true religion God accepts.
How have you seen true religion played out? How can you display genuine faith to others?
Heavenly Father, open my eyes to see where I can help the most vulnerable as You lead me.
Four men named James appear in the New Testament. Which one of them authored the book of James? James the brother of John was martyred in ad 44 (Acts 12:2). Most scholars believe the letter was written ad 48 or later. James the father of Judas (not Iscariot) is mentioned only once (Luke 6:16), so it’s unlikely he wrote it. Some think the author is James the son of Alphaeus (Mark 3:18). However, most scholars believe the writer to be James the half-brother of Jesus. Immediately after Jesus’ ascension to heaven (Acts 1:9–10), we find a reference to this James (v. 13). The text tells us that after the ascension, the disciples returned to an upstairs room along with “the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and . . . his brothers” (v. 14; see also Mark 6:3). James the brother of Jesus met a vital qualification of apostleship; he’d seen Jesus following His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7).