James 1:26-27 (AMP) If anyone thinks himself to be religious [scrupulously observant of the rituals of his faith], and does not control his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless (futile, barren). Pure and unblemished religion [as it is expressed in outward acts] in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit and look after the fatherless and the widows in their distress, and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the [secular] world.
Pure religion is not to just visit the orphans and widows but to look after them and keep ourselves uncontaminated by the world. Wow, has anyone else had a reality check by this verse? Are we looking after those in need or merely visiting them? Are we living our lives pure before God without being infected by the sin of the world? I want to live my life having an affect on the world around me, not being affected by those without Christ.
If we are just following rituals but aren't doing what the Word says and aren't acting like Christians then our religion is worthless. We are here to serve God out of a pure heart of gratitude because of what He has already done for us. In doing so, we are blessed beyond measure because as we do the will of our Father, we are being fulfilled. We find purpose and realize that we get to play a role in spreading the gospel and changing lives around the world. What greater reward is there than living a life of peace and joy because we are saved by grace and desire to help as many people as we can? This is when we experience true joy and fulfillment, when we serve others.
Romans 12:10-13 (AMP) Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor; never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.