I remember the last time I tried to ride a horse. I had on my boots and hat. I easily got into the saddle and was ready to go. That wild bronco began to move. He moved about 3 steps and the saddle started sliding. It started sliding sideways. Thankfully, we were close to fence and I grabbed the top rail. Of course my boots remained in the stirrups and I was riding side saddle. Literally, the saddle had slid to the side and I was sticking out with my legs on the horse and my hands on the rail. I still don’t remember how I escaped such a “precarious” position. I am glad that horse was so old he really didn’t want to move anyway.
Big thins, like horses, can be controlled by very small things in the right hands. When properly bridled, a well trained horse and rider can work wonders. James compares our need to control our tongues to bridling a horse. Notice what he says, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 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.” JAMES 1:26-27 NASB
James gives two indications of having pure and undefiled religion. First, we must control our speech. Our speech is to be gentle and seasoned with love. We speak truth in love as we call people to repentance when proclaiming the good news of Jesus. Pure religion is also marked by how we treat others. Widows and orphans were some of the neediest in Biblical times. The family of God rallied around them and saw that their needs were met and thus put their love into action. Finally, James reminds us that people with pure religion remain unstained from the world. We must live apart from the sins of the words. That doesn’t mean we have no contact with sinners. (Hint: we are all sinners.) It means we don’t participate in nor endorse their sins. Our message of repentance is a call to leave their sins and serve the Savior.
This morning, let us have a pure and undefiled religion, watch what we say, how we treat others, and remain pure.