Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world. Â Â Â James 1:26-28 (The Message)
Do not try to â€œwiggleâ€ out of the meaning of this passage. Put in â€œGodly relationshipâ€ in the place of â€œreligionâ€ and hear that with your spirit. From Exodus 22 to James 1, God tells us to care for the â€œwidows and orphansâ€. Why is that? I asked my husband for some cultural history and read some in a couple of study Bibles.
Widows and orphans were the ones in the Biblical society who could be homeless and starving on the street. It was a very man-driven society and if you had no husband or father to protect you and provide for you â€“ you were cast-off. The â€œleastâ€ in the society were the ones that God was saying, â€œTake care of them. Pay attention to their needs.â€
Who are the â€œleastâ€ in our society?
- The orphans â€“ We still have children who have been abandoned by parents who are drug addicts or criminals. Children who have tremendous medical needs because they were born with profound disabilities and have no parents or parents unable to cope. Mixed race children still carry the stigma of not â€œfittingâ€ with a group or culture.
- Widows and widowers â€“ loneliness is an unflattering result when you lose a spouse. I see older singles struggle to find their way in a world that is constructed for couples. I see young singles who are left alone when their military spouse is killed in action and they may not have the military support that they had as a couple.
- Homeless individuals and families â€“ how very judgmental we are when we see a person standing or sitting on the side of the road or parking lot. â€œGet a job!â€ The old Indian wisdom that tells us to first walk a mile in someone’s moccasins before you judge them â€“ is well said.
- The poor â€“ those who work at a job or even two or three and still cannot make the basic of bills. Maybe they did make some unwise choices along the way but they are trying to provide for their family but they never seem to be able to get ahead of the financial curve that threatens to totally derail them.
- The mentally ill â€“ I am seeing the person with chronic, debilitating depression or bi-polar with huge mood swings that destroy jobs and relationships. Who will care about them and their family?
And what is our response to these people? Create more government agencies to give them handouts or teach them skills? Is that what God said to do? I do not doubt the need for some expertise in some of these situations. However, it isn’t a lack of skills that keeps me from being involved but a lack of caring and God-given love that makes me turn my head and not volunteer my time and talents. (I hope you are thinking â€œOuch!â€ and I am not the only one with my toes throbbing right now!) Having an intimate relationship with my LORD isn’t just about what I say and believe but also what I do with what I believe.
May I open my ears to hear God’s urgings and open my eyes to opportunities He puts in my path to serve others. Maybe it’s just a smile, an acknowledgment of their existence. Maybe it’s volunteering to rock crack babies at a local hospital or serve at a soup kitchen or special needs day care. Oh, LORD, may my heart never become hard but a compassionate heart just like Yours. â€œHere I am, LORD. Send me.â€ (Isaiah 6:8)
You Raise Me Up by Rolf Levland and Brendan Graham, sung by Samuel Afi