Bible study is not enough. That is not to say that Bible study is unimportant! It’s just not the sum total of what it means to walk with Jesus. According to the letter of James someone who says they have faith must demonstrate it through corresponding action. In other words, James promotes the idea that the proof of genuine faith is evidenced by what we do.
A person that is in right relationship with God will show evidence of that reality in practical ways. For example, in James 1:27 we are told that when we care for orphans and widows and seek to live a holy life we are demonstrating the genuine character of our faith (pure and undefiled religion).
One of the major points of the letter of James is that if you hear God’s Word but you don’t do what it says…it’s not enough.
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:22, NLT)
It’s possible to hear God’s Word, affirm that it is true, and maybe even have a deeply emotional response but then walked away unchanged. To see a need and feel really bad about the pain of others but not actually do something about it is not compassion. Each time it is said of Jesus that He had compassion on someone you see Him doing something about their need.
James 1:27 teaches us that we are to “look after orphans and widows.” This does not mean that we look after them with curiosity alone – keeping our distance though we are made aware of their plight; rather, the sense of this command is that we are to discover what their needs are and run to them to relieve their suffering!
I used to turn away. I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the suffering of the millions of children in this world – poor children who were malnourished, ill-treated, homeless, dying of curable diseases, worm-ridden, bloated-bellied, and orphaned. After all…what can one person do?
God has brought me from apathy to empathy…from primarily an inwardly focused spiritual journey to an externally focused journey. God has led me to become the difference in the life of a child … and do so motivated by the Gospel and the glory of God in Jesus’ name!
I remember seeing the commercials on T.V. some years back – perhaps you’ll remember them: The white-bearded, friendly looking gentleman kneeling beside a poor orphan with squalid conditions on display in the backdrop. I remember cynically turning the channel thinking to myself something like, “Sure, buddy. You’re just using this child as a tool to play on my emotions in an attempt to get my money and use a bunch of it for yourself!”
Though I believe we need to know about the organizations we support I have been given the gift of a changed heart on this issue. No longer does my cynicism shut the door to the cry of the poor and abused orphan. I now weep with the orphan and find myself in the company of Jesus who weeps for them as well.
Bible study is indispensable but it’s not enough. We should be rooted in Scripture and bearing fruit through practical service to the marginalized among us. Would you like ideas on how to begin to introduce your church to the idea of caring for orphans? I’d love to share with you some of the ideas we’ve discovered and implemented over the years at Council Road Baptist Church. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com or call (405) 503-4092.