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Are You Religious?

What comes to your mind when you hear the word religious? Do you think about someone who goes to church, reads the Bible, and prays a lot? The Bible has a very different definition of what religious should be.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:26-27

The word religious in this passage comes from a Greek word that means ceremonial observances. That means that you do things out of tradition. So to understand it, we need to realize that this doesn’t apply to our spiritual walk with Christ.

Being spiritual is all about relationship, not religion. I come to Christ in prayer, in the church, and in the Scripture, not because it’s tradition or ceremony. I come to Him because I want to know Him better as a person.

The better I relate to Christ, the more growth I experience in my Christian walk. I do know that there are many Christians who treat their walk with God in a religious way. However, in my opinion, it’s much better to cultivate a relationship with Christ, then to simply follow religious observances.

What, then, does this Scripture want us to be religious about? I can see three things that we need to observe as a tradition in our lives.

First of all, we need to religiously control our tongues. James goes so far as to say that if you don’t control your tongue, you’re deceiving yourself as to your maturity. It doesn’t matter what else you do, it’s all worthless without bringing the tongue under control.

That’s because our mouth doesn’t speak on its own.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45

Control of the tongue is about controlling what you put into your heart. So if you’re not constantly filling your heart with the Word, your tongue will declare it publically.

The next part of good religion is to help those in distress. We don’t just live for ourselves. There’s a world of hurting people around us. Orphans, widows, single parents, and those in prison all need encouragement and help. There are many more than just those groups.

If we truly want to start a tradition, it should be one of helping others in their need. More than any other group, Christians should be the ones that help those no one else cares about. After all, that’s what Jesus did in His ministry.

The final part is to keep yourself from being polluted by the world. That’s a tough assignment. The Scripture literally says to keep from becoming spotted or stained by the world.

Every day, as we work and interact with those around us, the dirt from society is coming at us. If we’re not careful, we can start picking up some of the same attitudes. This will greatly hinder our walk with God.

We need to be in the pattern, the tradition, of going to God daily for repentance. As the Holy Spirit prompts us that we need to be cleaned of something, we need to be quick to respond. In that way we’ll be free of the stains of the world.

If you want to be religious about something, these are the things you should major on; and keep your walk with Christ as a growing relationship.

Question: What are the religious traditions in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on March 8, 2017 in Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Is Your Tongue Your Problem?

DogI’ve been talking about Abraham’s example to us in receiving God’s blessing and provision.  In my last post I said that we needed to speak what we believe from our heart.  This is important because it’s usually our speaking that gets us in the most trouble.

Listen to the exchange that took place as Abraham was taking Isaac up the mountain.  All Abraham knew at this point was that God was asking him to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice.

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”  And the two of them went on together.
Genesis 22:7-8

I can only imagine how much pain this question caused Abraham.  I believe that there was a long pause while Abraham thought about how he could answer the boy.  It amazes me how simply the answer was formed.

In spite of his confusion, and without anger or bitterness toward God, he spoke the truth in faith and love.  This is a lesson we need to take to heart.

So many times we speak without thinking.  We especially run into trouble when we talk from the hurt and anguish we’re experiencing.  We say many things that we wish we could take back.

That’s why one of the secrets to positioning ourselves to receive God’s blessing is to watch what we say when we’re hurting.  James understood this truth.

Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
James 3:5-6

James is looking at this from a negative perspective.  Controlled by the spirit, the tongue can set your life on course for God’s blessing.  Controlling the tongue is one of the hardest things we’re called to do, yet it’s one of the most important.  What we say can set the emotional foundation for our eventual success or failure.

How we speak, especially in times of confusion and pain, will have a lasting effect on both us and those around us.  Is what you’re saying building up or tearing down God’s work?

We must choose to keep a watch over our tongues.  If needed, we can go to the Lord in repentance for things that may have been said in hurt or anger.  We can ask for His strength to take control of this unruly member of our body.

If we will spend time in the Lord’s presence and meditate upon His Word, then there will be a greater chance that truth and love will come out during stressful times.

Question: When have your words either helped or hurt the situation you were in?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Faith, God's Provision

 

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