Summary: And what are you doing to keep yourself from being polluted by the world? It's not the big major "sins" that most often get us...it's the little foxes that spoil the vine. What are you watching...what are you listening to...where do you spend your time?
LIKE FATHER LIKE CHILD
JAMES 1:26 27
Like father like son (mother daughter) is a well known phrase...and it's usually used when the less desirable traits of the parent are seen in their children. Song "Cat's in the Cradle" but also positive...Something we can be proud of as parents, when children follow in our footsteps.
Jesus commanded us to be just like our Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:48)....etc He reminded us that when we love others as our Father loves us...then we prove ourselves to be His children.
In his letter so far, James has brought us in touch with our Heavenly Father at two points. First, that He is ready to give His wisdom to us. And secondly, that He shared His nature with us when He brought us forth as His children (v.18).
So now we need to look at the question, "What will life be like if it's controlled by God's wisdom? And what will it be like if that wisdom would really be worked out in this new nature we were given when we accepted Christ as Savior?
If any are following the outline I gave you at the beginning of our study of James, you'll note that we first looked at the Test of Faith...and now we're looking at the Characteristics of Faith...the first of which is that "faith obeys the word." Faith doesn't just hear something...it hears, accepts and then acts on it.
And now, without warning or preparation, we find ourselves reading about 3 marks of genuine religion: a controlled tongue...a caring ministry to the needy...and personal holiness. James goes from a broad call to obey the Word of God to specific areas of Christian living.
But of all the commands in Scripture, why should the tongue, care for the needy, and personal holiness be chosen to illustrate our obedience to God's Word? To answer this we need to look back and see the path James has led us on, up to this point.
In the passage we looked at last week, that precedes verses 26 27, he was dealing with the topic of listening...accepting...and then doing God's word. James stresses that this is a natural progression when one becomes a Christian and continues on in this new life.
We can see the actual sequence which begins with salvation, in verse 18...then speaks about growing in the faith (v. 19 25)...and then in today's passage, are the characteristics that a new life in Christ should display.
These three Christian characteristics are not just an arbitrary choice. They say to us "Like Father, Like Child." And it couldn't be any other way because the life He calls us to is one that should bear the same fruits in our lives that He exhibits in His.
And James is so convinced of this that he devotes the whole heart of his letter to it...from the first verse of chapter 2...to the sixth verse of chapter 5. He teaches us about how we should live, and he bases it on what he discerns to be true about God our heavenly Father.
Now, one thing that sticks out to me is that James uses a different order in verses 26 27 than he does when dealing with them in the next 3 chapters. He puts the tongue first...and actually puts a great deal of emphasis on it. And probably with good reason.
First off, the words that unite verses 26 and 27 are religious...and religion. Now, this is a word I generally like to avoid using. I don't like to have someone refer to me as religious because I usually think of that as a negative rather than a positive. (Scott Wesley Brown song...I'm not religious, I just love the Lord!")
The word "religious" seems to generally refer to the outward forms of religion. And the word for religion here is threskos and it does mean a ceremonial observance...a ritual. But to James, this threskos is just the external manifestation of eusebeo.
And eusebeo is a word translated religion that speaks of a real relationship to God that is rooted in the heart and shows in ones life. 1 Timothy 5:4 uses this word as an obligation on the part of children to express in practical ways the duty they feel toward their family.
So religion is really a comprehensive word for the ways that a genuine, heart relationship to God is expressed in our lives. It's not just something we do...but its how we live based on what we are...or actually who we are. If you are what you say you are there should be some evidence.
James lists 3 things that are characteristic of what should be seen in us. Now, James doesn't intend for this to be taken as a complete list of religious activities...so that if we do these things we can say that we're religious...even if we never pray, or read our Bibles, or go to church, or get baptized, or take communion etc.