Are you surprised when you experience God’s Word at work within you?
I am! Progress amazes me. I see how far I have to go more than how far I have come. I just finished teaching a course entitled Christian Social Responsibility. If the content could be described by using one verse, it may be James 1:27.
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
My friends, I do not want to possess an unpure, defiled religion! To put it another way: I want to have a religion which pleases God and blesses others! That’s the kind of religion mentioned by James. As a result, what he lists ought to have our attention. And what makes the list? Basically, two activities. First, he names our calling to personally connect with those in distress. Second, he states that we must do whatever is necessary to remain unpolluted by the world.
Would you mind if we camped on the first of these concepts in this entry?
We are called to personally connect with those in distress. James specifically mentions widows and orphans. His list could be longer.
The fatherless sons of the inner city
The lonely single
The single mother
As I considered the list–the needs all around me–I was convicted that I have not done enough to alleviate the suffering of “the least of these” (Mt. 25:40, 45). Perhaps you can relate. One of my students admitted in our last class that she is a self-centered individual. In reality–that’s a condition we all have. It was created by the fall and imprinted upon us in conception. Thus, we are consumed with our own little world–our needs and our wants–and we forget to consider the needs of those around us. Isn’t this why we have passages like Philippians, chapter two?!
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (2:3,4).
We might consider this to be a re-wording of the “Golden Rule.” It is what the Good Samaritan parable looks like in our lives. It is nothing but living like Jesus (2:5-11). And living like Jesus is everything! And living like Jesus is what I need to do more.
Today finds me encouraged that the class I recently taught has moved me to be more compassionate, being more willing to meet needs that I see around me. Believe me when I state that I have much growing to do. I am far too Tim-centered. My ultimate hope is that I will mature to the point that I actually am Christ-centered which is evidenced by being people-blessing.
My final devotional for the class allowed me the opportunity to encourage my students from the last portion of Philippians, chapter two. The Apostle Paul mentioned two individuals who did not merely look out for their own personal interests, but were also looking to meet the needs of others–Timothy (2:19-24) and Epaphroditus (2:25-30). These men were deeply committed to Christ (2:21, 30) and to others (2:20, 25). They willingly put flesh on their faith.
Isn’t that what we all are supposed to do? I hope you begin to see more of it in me.