James 1:27 “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.”
Polluted by the world? There are many ecological nightmares related to pollution in the world. Pollution has impact on our lives and health, sometimes unbeknownst to us. I love animals and nature and have hopped on many a Save the_____ band wagon. All well and good. But, what James is referring to here is a pollution of much greater magnitude. It is a pollution of the heart. It is this pollution which is less obvious and more detrimental than a pile of trash along a beautiful beach or the slums of Calcutta.
James chapter 2 goes on to speak of the pollution of favoritism in our lives. If we are honest, we can search our heart and find a time when we’ve shown preference toward someone over another… on the job in friendships, in the church. It is human nature to have likes and dislikes of personality traits, lifestyles, attitudes. That’s normal. That’s not what James speaks of here.
James speaks of discrimination. He speaks of favoritism based on an outward appearance. He relates a story of a man with gold rings and fine clothes attending a meeting and being given a better seat than a man with shabby clothes, who was left to stand or told to sit on the floor.
Can you relate to anything here? Have we not all at one point or another been the one who showed favoritism… toward someone we esteemed because of some external characteristic? The rich, the ___ skin tone, the cool kid, the pretty people, the fit and trim, or even the poor, the down and outer or the under dog.
It all adds up to passing a judgment. James refers to this as discriminating “among yourselves and becoming judges with evil thoughts.”
Oh, for eyes to see as God does! The same call toward salvation and internal wealth is on all men. The Kingdom is promised toward those who love Him! Only God sees the heart. My call as a believer in Christ is to treat others as impartially as God does. Which means showing His grace and favor toward all men, not just those I may deem worthy; not just those who may frequent the inner circle of my comfort zone, but toward all men.
This is to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. By not showing favoritism. By purity in helping those in distress, by not looking down on the afflicted. By not esteeming one above another and seeing myself as anything but a broken pot mended by the Father. By realizing the same call I have is on ____. We are all called to relationship with God. God loves ____ as He loves me. I am called to love ___ as He loves me.
Dear God, forgive our petty point of view. Forgive us for walking in the norms and standards of this world. Forgive our preferences which we’ve held above Your own. Forgive us as the church for discrimination in any and every arena; which reeks to high Heaven more than any slum of this world. We, Your people have bowed to the world standards of what is esteemed. Forgive us, Lord. Mold in me, in us, a heart that beats as Yours does, without partiality. Help us to walk in this world free of contamination and quick to check our hearts, our motives our walk in the light of Your Word. Help us to examine our own hearts in your Truth and not the norms of the church, our job, our friends, or the standards of any aspect of this world which will all pass away; but in the light of Your Kingdom, promised toward those who love You. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.