James wants to talk to the believers who think that they are doing just great. He wants to discuss religion with those who presume to be religious. Three distinct points – the first point has to do with the tongue and the heart. The last two points follow Jesus’ teaching to love God and to love our neighbors. He wants their faith, to be useful. God’s eyes see and determine what is pure and faultless. God determines what religion is acceptable to him or not. James wants the believers to be mature and complete. 3 Categories
l The taming of the tongue.
l The care of those in need.
l And the moral purity of the believer.
- Pure and faultless, worthy religion is honest and humble
- Pure and faultless worthy religion is helpful
- Pure and faultless worthy religion is holy
v26 has everything to do with our hearts as they are made new in Christ. The heart that is deceived, is one that cannot control his tongue. If we become judgmental rule makers we are at risk of being much more like the pharisee than the tax collector. It is clear that what came out of the heart in the Pharisee’s prayer was pride. It was clear that his religiosity meant more to him than the very God he was praying to. In contrast the tax collector, or the sinner, prayed humbly. He knew there was no merit to his prayer if it were not acceptable to the one he was praying too. Furthermore, people such as widows and orphans had no way of providing for themselves and so James points out the role of the church in helping to provide for them. The point of loving others really has everything to do with displaying God’s glory, his mercy, his love, his tenderness, his compassion to the world. We ask that God would receive all blessing and glory from the work being done. We take care of others so that the light and love of Christ would make it into their hearts. Keeping oneself unstained by the world has something to do with your behavior and where you go, but it has a whole lot more to do with what shirt you decide to put on this morning. Are you putting on the new life of Christ. Or are you going back to the dirty pile of clothes in the back corner of your closet. You are clothed in Christ’s righteousness so there is no room to boast. Help others in need with a purpose bigger than your good feeling.