I talk a lot about James 1:27. It’s one of those verses that’s burned on my heart. It’s a verse that has turned my world upside-down. However, something’s bothered me recently.
When I hear that verse talked about or even when I talk about it, I tend to focus on the “caring for orphans and widows” part of pure religion. But James ended that particular description with another clause:
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 1:27, emphasis added)
I can attest to the pure and undefiled religion experienced in visiting and caring for orphans and widows. It’s unlike anything you can experience in the four walls of a church.
But I fail to remember that latter half of the verse: Keep yourself unstained by the world. God’s been speaking to me and my life about what it means to truly “seek justice” and the question I keep asking myself is this: How is my life stained by the world?
Because that word “unstained” intrigues me. To be stained means that there’s a mark present that shouldn’t be there. I liked how the dictionary defines stain: a discoloration produced by foreign matter having penetrated into or chemically reacted with a material; a spot not easily removed. Not easily removed.
I don’t want to be distracted by a stain of cultural values in a world where I’m called to pure religion, chasing unrelenting after God’s heart here on earth.
So I’m praying about how my life might be stained by the world and what God is calling me to do about those stains.