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May 16, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”—James 1:27 (NKJV)
For most of my life, my perspective of the orphan crisis was skewed. I didn’t consider it my problem. In my mind, an orphan was a spunky girl in a red dress who was rescued by a rich bald-headed benefactor. The sun would come out tomorrow, because Daddy Warbucks would step in and save the oppressed child while I sat on the couch in my comfortable air-conditioned home doing nothing.
I thought I lacked the power and position to make a difference in the life of a child. I didn’t know any orphans personally, and so I could separate myself from the problem. Rescuing vulnerable children was not my concern. Call the rich guy with the big bank account and a house full of servants. I certainly was not capable of helping.
What a lie from the pit of hell! The apostle James shattered my selfish illusions with just one phrase, “Pure and undefiled religion . . . is this.” The depth of our inward faith in Christ is evidenced by outwardly defending those who are distressed and destitute. The Greek word for visit in today’s verse implies more than just passing through. The command is to take an active, helpful presence in the lives of those who are hurting. James is telling us that our calling card as Christians is compassionate care. When we get real with God, we give ourselves away to others—expecting nothing in return.
We are called to follow the example of Christ and step forward to actively relieve the suffering of the most vulnerable. The orphan crisis is not someone else’s problem to solve. God is asking us to stand apart as His ambassadors: He is inviting us to set aside selfishness in order to provide sustenance and security to the helpless. He has blessed us beyond measure, and now we are on a mission of mercy as His benefactors in this broken world.
Want to get real, Christian? Get up off the couch and carry Christ’s redemption to a child with no home.
DIG: Read Isaiah 1:15-17 and write down the actions required to live out this mandate.
DISCOVER: Spend time praying about the orphan crisis in your community. Ask God to show you practical steps you can take this week to help address this need.
DISPLAY: Purpose to show compassionate care to at least one person in your community who cannot repay you. How will you be a benefactor in God’s name?