Main point summary
God delights in compassionate, pure living, not loose-tongued, self-deceived, worldly living.
If anyone thinks he is religious
If someone calls himself "religious,"
q and does not bridle his tongue
while not stopping himself from spewing forth whatever he wants to say
but deceives his heart,
but being willingly self-deceived,
this person’s r religion is worthless.
then his kind of "religion" is utter garbage.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
On the other hand , the kind of religion that God delights in is twofold:
s to visit t orphans and widows in their affliction,
to come to the aid of the helpless,
and u to keep oneself v unstained from the world.
and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the God-opposing world.
The Greek underlying "does not bridle" and "deceives" is two participles which are subordinate to the verb "thinks he is religious." Therefore I have arced them together.
The religion of a loose-tongued, self-deceived person is worthless, while the religion of a compassionate, pure person is priceless.
Worthless religion is impure and defiled .
And it is only God's view of things that matters!
This is to be contaminated by the world!
Two kinds of "religion" are contrasted here - two ways of living out the Christian life. THE FIRST is that of someone who doesn't restrain his lips, but spews out whatever he thinks. Proverbs calls such a person a fool! As such, he is a self-deceived person. God's verdict on such a lifestyle is that it is utter garbage. It is spiritually worthless , and reveals a soul that is anti-God, just like the God-opposing world. And such a person's claim to Christianity is a self-deluded lie . THE SECOND is that of someone who comes to the aid of the helpless, specifically the most helpless people in James's society: widows and orphans, and who keeps himself uncontaminated by the God-opposing world.' God's verdict on such a lifestyle is that it is holy and spotless. This means that it is spiritually priceless , and reveals a soul that shares the heart of God in purity and compassion for others. This is how Jesus lived: resisting Satan's temptation, loving His Father wholeheartedly, and showing compassion on the sick and helpless. And such a person's claim to Christianity is a God-approved reality . James's comparison echoes the comparison that is the main theme of Proverbs: the way of life or the way of death; the way of wisdom or the way of foolishness. One way leads to Heaven, and the other way leads to Hell. The entrance to the second way is simply to keep living the same way, on the broad path. The entrance to the first way is narrow, and requires faith in Jesus Christ alone, which results in a life of love, compassion, and purity. Which way are you on? Which way will you choose today?