“My children,” writes the author of 1 John, “love must not be a matter of words or talk; it must be genuine and show itself in action.”
James writes, “My brothers, what use is it for a man to say he has faith when he does nothing to show it? Can that faith save him? Suppose a brother or a sister is in rags with not enough food for the day, and one of you says, ‘Good luck to you, keep yourself warm, and have plenty to eat’, but does nothing to supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So with faith; if it does not lead to action, it is in itself a lifeless thing.” (James 2:14-17) He tells us, “The kind of religion which is without stain or fault in the sight of God is this: to go to the help of orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself untarnished by the world.” (James 1:27)
Paul writes, “The only thing that counts is faith active in love.” (Galatians 5:6) He warns, “I may have faith strong enough to move mountains; but if I have no love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2)
Love is not a lifeless thing. Although kind words are involved, love is primarily action directed for the benefit of our fellow humankind. Love looks for opportunities to show others the same love God shows to us. Therefore, says Paul: “Put love first.” (1 Corinthians 14:1) After all, love is everlasting.
Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 8:14pm
“Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”
I personally love the positive nature of “true religion.” True religion seeks justice, encourages the oppressed, defends orphans, pleads for widows. “True religion” seeks “to do right.” “Against such things there is no law,” says Paul. (Galatians 5:23)
James tells us, “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.” (James 1:27) Paul puts it succinctly,”The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)
And Jesus reminds us, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:46-48)
“A man may think he is always right, but the Lord fixes a standard for the heart.”
A person justifies his acts to himself. For example, if you are running late to an important meeting and many are waiting on you, is it right to run a red light if there are no cars coming in either direction? Some say, ‘Yes.’ Others say, ‘No.’ Some are just bewildered, knowing they’d consider running the light.
Whatever you decide, you justify your decision to yourself as the correct one. Otherwise, if you are like most people, you won’t do that which you’ve decided is wrong. In order to commit an illegal or immoral act, you must first decide it is ‘not so bad,’ ‘the correct or better thing to do in this situation,’ or ‘okay because everyone else is doing it.’
You see yourself as being in the right.
“But the Lord fixes a standard for the heart,” writes Solomon. Jesus knows that it is what comes out of the heart that defiles a man. And, unfortunately, a person’s heart is deceitful above all things, says Jeremiah.
God’s standard is high; fixed so high we can not attain to it. We must place ourselves under the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ where God’s mercy overshadows us. Here we are justified not by ourselves, but by God Himself. Rejoice! I say again – Rejoice!