JAMES 1:26-27: “If a person thinks that he is religious but can’t control his tongue, he is fooling himself. That person’s religion is worthless. Pure, unstained religion, according to God our Father, is to take care of orphans and widows when they suffer and to remain uncorrupted by this world.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Will the real Christian please stand up? When I was young I use to watch a TV Game Show titled – “To Tell The Truth”. There were four celebrities who would listen to the claims of three different people and try to guess which one was telling the truth. It would start out with each of the three individuals saying exactly the same thing – “My name is … And I …” Then the panel of the four celebrities would ask these three individuals questions, tryIng to deduce from these questions, which one was telling the truth! Hence, the title of the show – “To Tell The Truth!”
If there were three people on the panel saying – “I am a Christian” – what would be the questions they should asked to ascertain who was really telling the truth. I know I am stretching this example a bit, but please bear with me. Would we ask them:
- “What version of the Bible do you read?”
- “What denomination do you belong to?”
- “Do you give your tithe each week?”
- “Do you believe in the rapture?”
- “What type of music do you prefer for worship?”
- “Do you speak in tongues?”
The list could go on and on. Yet, when James asks this question he does’nt come close to any of these questions. He focuses on really only two things, and they both relate to the heart. The questions that James asks are:
- “What are you saying?”
- “Who are you helping?”
Let’s look at the first one. “What are you saying?” This is not a question about doctrinal confessions, but simply what is in one’s heart. Jesus said – “…Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” James no doubt had this in mind. If a person claims to be religious and cannot control his tongue, then his religion is in vain. In other words – our words will give us away! What comes out of our mouth reveals what is taking place in our heart. James puts it another way – “…remain uncorrupted by the world.” A true Christian is one who is daily and progressively being transformed in their heart! And this transformation is manifested through a growing ability to control their tongue and to speak words of life!
The second is like the flip side of a coin – “Who are we helping?” Our old sinful nature is selfish. We tend to always gravitate towards our needs, our wants, our desires. I have witnessed this in my own life, and I have seen this rise its ugly head in many a marriage going through adversity, where both the best and worst in a person is revealed. True Christianity is evidenced in a heart that is growingly become selfless, like the Lord Jesus Christ. John, in his epistles, notes this as both a test and a testimony for true faith. If we love others, selflessly, sacrificially, it is the evidence of Christ’s love living in and working through us. And so James says a true believer takes care of widows and orphans. These are people who cannot take care of themselves. A true believer’s heart is drawn to reach out to those what are truly in need!
To tell the truth, Christianity is less about the things we spend so much time about, and more about the condition of our heart. Like the woman at the well with Jesus, we often hide behind the smoke screen of questions that keep us from dealing with the true nature of our heart. Yet, it was for the transformation of the inner man that we have been redeemed! We are all called to build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ in our lives. If we focus on the externals – we will build with wood, hay, and stubble. If we focus on the heart, we will build with gold, silver, and precious stones.
And the wonderful thing is, when we focus on the matters of the heart, the internals of our life – we will do more in the externals of our life too! A changed heart changes the world!
Lord – change my heart!
In Jesus Name!