Focus: Being honest with yourself
James 1:26-27 (NKJV) If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
As you live your life, be sure you aren’t patterning yourself after the example of people who you think are religious. After you’ve given your heart and soul to God, you might not know exactly how to live a life that would be pleasing to Him. You might naturally look toward people who you consider to be righteous and think you should try to be more like them. As you hear them pray, you might want to try to pray like they do. If they dress a certain way, you might think you should try to dress more like they do. Being a copycat Christian is a common temptation when you aren’t really sure what being a Christian is supposed to sound and look like.
It’s important to model your life after the examples of righteousness found in the Word of God. It’s also important for you to study the Word of God, in order to know what true religion is. If you take your example from people, you might never see some of the things God says are important being acted out at all.
There are many religious people who deceive themselves according to James 1:26. They work hard at talking in ways that sound religious, yet what they say is unbalanced. Others may claim to be religious, yet they don’t practice what they preach. Still others have made a form of religion by concentrating on certain practices, but completely ignoring some of the simple truths outlined in scripture.
So often, people create a religious life that consists of doing what comes easy for them. As long as they are able to ‘do things their way’, they feel content with religion. But when they are called on to do something sacrificial or something that is out of their comfort zone, they opt out—claiming that what they don’t want to do is ‘not their calling’.
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Don’t be one of those people. Be honest with yourself. Consider your ways. Check yourself, to see if your characteristics are in agreement with what the Word of God describes as a righteous person.
When you make a truthful assessment of your own righteousness, you will probably feel like a failure if you’re really on the right track. The Bible actually says no one is truly righteous. It says that even the righteous things we do are filthy in comparison to the righteousness of God.
One of the most important things we can focus on is making sure that our ‘religion’ is not ‘an act’ or ‘performance’ that is done for our own glory or as a means of getting approval from people.
Many of the ‘religious’ things people do are done out of tradition and habit. People go through life acting out behavior and mannerisms they were taught to believe were ‘religious’. James 1:27 (NKJV) says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” What a measuring stick! What a shocking definition of pure and undefiled religion! Yet, how much attention is given to these areas in most people’s lives?
Isaiah 1:16-20 says, “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
It is so easy to fall into a trap of living your new life according to a ‘form of Godliness’ or a ‘religious pattern’. A ‘form of Godliness’ or a ‘religious pattern’ would be simply going to church, and doing what is ‘easy’ or ‘convenient’, that ‘seems religious’…yet ignoring the needy, the helpless, and the weak.
An important part of recovery is finding the ability to be honest with yourself about your condition. One of the healthiest things you can do to improve your own condition, is to become more concerned about the needs of others than you are concerned about your own.
The final words of the famous prayer of Saint Francis are: “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.”
Declaration: I will find new strength as I honestly assess the characteristics of my life according to the Word of God.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.