vs. 26:Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
◦ Wow… worthless!
◦ Lets clarify the word religion here. It has to do with going through a ritual, a form or a ceremony.
◦ Also, let’s think about what it says when it says “consider themselves”.
▪ I don’t think it means they are not religious. I think it means they really do think of themselves as religious.
- For years I have shied away from calling myself religious. It has a bad connotation for me. I know some “religious” people who I am not comfortable being around. Do you know some? Are you one? Oh I hope not. And I hope I am never this type of person. If you are my friend please tell me if you think I am acting this way!
◦ What I mean by this is
▪ They act self-righteous. They act like they think they are better than others.
- God is not a respecter of persons. A lot of people get one part of what that means, which is don’t think higher of some people than others. But we must never think higher of ourselves either!
▪ They think if others don’t follow the rules they were taught by their parents, teachers, preachers and such that then they are sinners.
- It has amazed me over the last year how God has shown me so many things that I thought I knew was right (as in it is from God) that were not. What it was really was what I was told or taught or assumed. But when I went to find it in the Bible, it is not there.
- We cannot think because we were taught to do something one way, that it is the only way.
◦ For example: Communion
▪ Some use real wine, some use real bread with no yeast, some use grape juice, some use yeast bread, oh my, some even use crackers!
▪ Does any of that matter?
▪ Do you think Jesus is mad because they are giving glory to Him and remembering what He did for them, but that they have the some little something wrong in the earthly part of it? True worship is spiritual, not earthly.
▪ He said “Do this in remembrance of Me.” He did not say “and you better do it this way, or that way!”.
▪ Ultra religious people think they have follow such rituals that they miss the Holy Spirit of God trying to move.
- The Spirit of God is compared to the wind in the Bible. You don’t know where it came from or where it is going. But you feel it!
◦ If you are hung up on rituals, you will miss the flow!
▪ Also, an overly religious, rule oriented Christian can scare a non-Christian to death! Or make them think it would horrible to be a Christian!
- I want to live a life pleasing to Christ, first and foremost, but secondly I hope that others can look at me and see something they know is missing from their lives.
Vs 27: 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.
◦ First lets take note that there IS a religion that is pure and faultless to God.
▪ What does this mean? It means there are times that we can do something that makes God see us as He intended for us to be! Isn’t that exciting?
- For me it is very exciting. I grew up thinking of God as the biggest, baddest punisher! Just watching everything I did with a critical eye and waiting for my next mess up. Only keeping an eye out for a mistake. Sot his shows me He sees the good stuff.
- Also, He sees good in us! We are sinners and not worthy of anything, and that is so true, but there is good in us by the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And by that same Spirit, we can do good things and we can do them very very well!
▪ So I always like to look at the opposite of a verse because I believe it helps to clarify the meaning. So the opposite of this would be something like this: Defiled, dirty, ugly, mixed up mess of a religion is when we are selfish and greed and do not help others and when we act like the world acts and there is no obvious difference between us and the world (the unsaved).
- Did that help clarify it? It does for me! Try using it on any verse you want to really get what God meant or if it seems a little confusing this method will help clarify it sometimes.
▪ So our Religion is to be pure and not contaminated with anything else.
- What could make it un-pure and contaminated?
◦ If we do any good works for the glory of it.
▪ Now I have taught on this subject for years (Doing good for the wrong reasons.) It is so easy to do. But so hard for us to see that we do it!
▪ I have learned that either me., and a few others who have shared with me, are absolutely bonkers crazy, or it is very very hard for Christians to look at their reasoning behind what they do closely and see the pride that motivates and guides us.
▪ Pride is prevalent in us. Even in that little old lady who we think is so sweet and humble. No one escapes pride.
- Pride looks like humbleness sometimes!
◦ Sometimes we might say, “Oh I am just helping because it is the right thing to do and someone has to do it.” (But inside we are thinking….man do I have to do everything!) Been there done that!
◦ Or we help someone, thinking maybe we won’t tell anyone about it, so that we won’t be prideful, and yet we do tell. Been there done that!
◦ Or when we help someone we feel superior to the one we are helping. (Can anyone look at theirselves and truthfully say, yes I have done that? I can. Sad but true.) Been there done that!
◦ We do so many things to help others because then we become super Christians! Super Christian is on the way!!!! Been there done that, and instead of getting a t-shirt for it, I got worn out, used and abused, resentful and stressed! Some of us have to learn we cannot be all things for all people!
▪ At an “Esther” women’s conference I really got this point a few years ago. They taught us that there are so many bad things happening in the world that there is no way you can change the whole world by helping. But if you pick one or two things and go long and deep with them, you can change someone’s world!
▪ I tried it, it works. You can make a much bigger and long lasting impact on someone if you focus on them and not 50 other people!
▪ You can figure out ways to be of much more help if you take the time to learn more about the one you are helping than to just see the most obvious need, or the one need they might let you see!
▪ Try it! Pick one or two people or ministries to go long and deep with! You will make an impact.
◦ Pride can even be a private thing. You help someone and you somehow feel you have grown into a spiritual warrior and you are awesome! Let me tell you, this one won’t last long, at least it did not for me… something will come along and knock you off your high-horse! Read Proverbs 16:18 and when you do, envision me, on my face mortified by my fall. Don’t let this be you!
▪ Orphans and widows, then and now, are apt to be lost in this world where people have families to help them. They are not the only ones though.
- I believe this verse is not limited to just orphans and widows, but indicates that we are to help those who have the hardest time helping themselves.
◦ In today’s time it certainly can mean orphans and widows!
◦ It could mean the drug addict that cannot figure out how to get out of their addiction.
◦ It could mean the person who lost their job and cannot find one and is at their wits end on how to get food and shelter for their family.
◦ It could be the mentally handicapped or physically handicapped that are unable to do the normal everyday things we take for granted.
◦ It could mean the person who messed up their life completely by their own doing, but now want to figure out how to get to the Godly life they could have.
◦ It could be that depressed, suicidal, or just plain sad and lonely person, who has personality issues that ends up making them an outcast.
◦ It could be you someday! It could be someday!
We start chapter two next week. I hope you are learning and enjoying this study. Could you leave me a note with your thoughts on this study? If you have questions, if you think it is too hard, to easy? Too long? Not writing in “good English” lol, anything. I would just like some feedback to make it better.
Come back next week, we are getting into some stuff that God truly blessed me with His Spirit while I was studying it, and I pray He will do the same for you!