But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:22-27 ESV)
I want you to know that as we begin Orphan Sunday, 2011 that many of you don’t understand why we are doing this. Many of you don’t understand why every year we have an entire Sunday dedicated to orphans and so I want to begin by setting aside some misconceptions and pointing to the biblical text to correct our thinking about this issue.
- Orphan care is not a fad.
- Orphan care is not varsity spirituality.
- Orphan care is not plan “B” for people who can’t have biological children.
- Orphan care is the logical implication of the sanctity of human life.
- Orphan care should be a real part of Christianity and church life.
If you look in to James 1 you will see how orphan care is a real part of Christianity and church life. James is discussing the Word of God. He is writing to people who are under persecution (1:1) in that persecution they were to rely on the Scriptures to live rightly. He has just finished telling them that they were to receive the implanted word (lit. the word that has taken up residence within you) which was able to save their souls. He adds to that (22), “BUT, be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Hearing the word is important, but it is not enough to sit through class after class, and sermon after sermon and bible study after bible study. There must be doing along with the hearing. Look at the words in verse 22 as well. He doesn’t just say “Do the word, don’t just hear it. He says, “Be doers of the word.” What James is saying is simple: Keep striving to be the kind of people who obey the Bible. That means something specific for you as an individual:
- Head: Your mind, your understanding; intellect
- Heart: Your emotions, your affections
- Hands: Your actions; your behavior, your choices
The person whose head is saturated with Scripture will be the kind of person who loves Christ and Jesus said if you love him you will obey him. James is saying that we must be those who hear and obey, not just those who hear and avoid obedience (auditing the class: hear the lecture, never responsible for the material).