Here we are at the start of a new year, a great deal to look forward to; or do we? I ask that because for some, the thought of a new year only brings only more of the same. We plan and make New Year’s resolutions and promise to change things in our lives that we feel we want to change, promise to change, and then never change. The average length of the resolutions is about a week before they are broken and then people go back to what they have always been doing. Some things will never change, right?
They should change as we look at what it taking place in the world; there is a greater need for services for the poor, the veterans, the homeless, the shut-ins, the prisoners, the hungry, the people who have mental/emotional deficits, and so on. Some, even churches and their congregations argue that “We already have services for them; why should we get involved?” Two very important reasons: 1) God mandates this from His people, 2) It’s the right thing to do. It is that simple.
My problem is that we, who profess to follow God’s Word, often have the biggest problem in reaching out to those in need. Sure, we talk about these, plan different things, but we depend on the government to supply for their needs when God instructs us in verses like the one listed above. Allow me to break the verse down for you…
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God…”: God is saying that the church who is truly seeking to do His will (which is meeting the needs of others in the same manner He does with us) is a church which God is longing us to be. Many can seem to be religious, that is, appearing to have that right relationship with God, but in reality fails to have any such thing. A church that is pure is a church whose motive is driven by serving God and doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do and not because the church will receive worldly recognition and praise. When a church’s motives are pure, ministry happens. Being undefiled is to not allow worldly mindsets to hinder God’s works or to justify reasons why we shouldn’t do what God is instructing EVERY believer to do. Reasons like “It’s not our calling” or “We simply don’t feel God moving us in that direction” simply will not be good excuses. They might work in the world, but doing the right thing never has an excuse.
“ … to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions…”- The key point I wish to address is during their affliction. Christ said to His disciples that there would always be widows and orphans among us. This wasn’t to say He wanted the disciples to ignore their needs; it was said because the disciples would have time to meet their needs and that their time with Christ was about to end as they know it. Afflictions differ and are numerous. Finances, transportation needs, medical needs, hunger needs, the needs for attention and affection, and I could go on, are basic needs every human has. God is not saying that we are to overdo the giving of ourselves to enable them to go on living worldly vices; but the basic human needs God instructs us to meet. Those individuals I mentioned earlier in this article, I believe, God also includes. I am not reading into the Scriptures; I am saying doing good and what is the right thing to do is for everyone. As they go through great trials and afflictions, we are called to bring comfort and grace. Yet today, we find it easier to allow the other person or the government to care for them. Why, we might even write a check as long as we don’t have to get our hands dirty…
“… to keep oneself unstained from this world.” – This is not as easy as it sounds! The church has already given into worldly desires and mindsets. They are changing beliefs that they once held dear to their hearts because it was what God’s Word is against and now claiming that they are socially acceptable. If we believe the Bible is God’s Word, and if we believe that God’s Word never changes, then it is right to say we should believe our stance on those issues should also never change; even if they are socially acceptable or even socially tolerated. Yet we turn our eyes towards keeping numbers in the church: having larger congregations, larger offerings, better social status, larger praise bands, etc… The world is all about the show, about the biggest and the best, and about making their way before anyone else. We see it in politics, in show business, in the business world, and sadly, in the church now.
In short, we are called to do the right thing: to meet needs. We expect God to do this for us. And just like God, He sends godly people to assist us with our needs. It is time for us to live out the Scriptures and to the right things.
Lead us closer to You and empower us to do the right thing by meeting the needs of others without reservations and judgments. Bless our efforts because we want to succeed for Your sake and not ours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.