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
There is an infinite world of difference between dry fish, and dried fish. The former is alive while the latter is dead. Now to say that a fish is alive, yet dry is to speak of a miracle. It is this miracle of living in water, and staying dry that the lord asks us to live out when he says, “to keep oneself unspotted by the world”. That, in God’s view is true religion – to swim in this world of sin, and remain unspotted by it.
Now it might appear at first as though the exhortation to visit orphans, and widows in their affliction does not make a neat bundle when tied to remaining unspotted by the world, but it does. All of God’s bundles are in fact neat. It happens to be the case that, arguably the easiest way to get spotted by the world is to succumb to the instinct to look out for ourselves first. And so when God says true religion is looking out for others, He is in fact teaching us how to spot-proof our lives.
There is a religious life that God considers impure. It is one whose ultimate aim is to serve self. One for which, the focus of all prayer, devotion, and spiritual exertion is inward – to promote self. There is however another that pleases the Lord. It looks outwards, and yearns with love for the comfort of others. As it was said of the Lord everywhere He went; “and he was moved with compassion for the multitudes”.
‘To swim in water and not get wet’ is the miracle God works out in our lives when we allow our hearts to drip compassion, when squeezed by the affliction that visits others.