The last instalment in the Proverbs 31 Series ended with James 1:22-27 about being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer only. After being told to be doers of the Word a very brief but powerful summary is given on what we should really be doing.
26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 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. (NKJV)
Step 3: Seek Justice, relieve the oppressed and correct the oppressor
Jesus came to set free all those that are oppressed. (Isa 61:1) It is His purpose. He then ascended into Heaven and left us with the Holy Spirit and the command to go and do more than He did. (John 16) We are here to set the oppressed free through Jesus Christ. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the oppressed around you and how you can start to set them free.
James 1:27 reveals some interesting things on closer inspection. Many Christians will claim they are not religious because being religious has the connotation of being pious, self-righteous and legalistic. But according to verse 27 there is such a thing as good religion. The word used in this instance is defined as worshipping especially outward worship that consists of ceremonies. So, before God, true religion, outward worship of Him, is to visit orphans and widows in their time of distress.
In our times the word visit just does not mean much. It simply means to go and see someone and have a cup of tea or coffee with them. What it actually means here is to go and see how someone is doing with the view to help, benefit, look after, provide for or care for.
That verse can then be expanded to say, “Pure and undefiled outward worship before God and the Father is this: to help, benefit, look after, provide for and care for orphans (those bereft of parents, those fatherless and those without a guide or teacher) and widows (those both literally and figuratively missing a husband) in their trouble….”
The question this verse begs is: What I am I doing for widows and orphans? If you’re in Namibia there is the SOS Children’s Village and Huis Maerua in Windhoek that are both always looking for help and support. My husband, Hanjo, and I are in the process of registering an organization with the vision of building a children’s village that can house up to one hundred children in a small homes of up to five children per home with, hopefully, not just a house mother but a father as well per each home. We’re very excited by our vision and the challenge before us. If you would like to partner with us please use the contact form to reach out and we will provide you with more information.
According to Strong’s Bible Dictionary an orphan is not just a child with no parents but also those who are fatherless and those without a guide or a teacher. This substantially broadens the scope of those we should be helping. Many, many children have both parents alive but are being cared for by older siblings or other distant relatives. This does not mean they have a guide or teacher. According to the Bible they should also be a part of those we help. Somehow we always have a tendency to look at the lowest of the low as needing help but there are children in what are now considered ‘normal’ single-parent homes. Their dad may or may not be around. He may or may not be a father as the Bible dictates a father should be. If he is not performing his duties as required by God then these children fall into the category of orphan. These children may not need money or food but they need Jesus. They need Godly role models, earthly men to show them what a man looks like, what a father is. This is not to say we are to go barging into single parent homes, instead we can identify some families around us and start to pray for them. Ask the Holy Spirit to go ahead and plan opportunities for you where you can be a helper to them, speak positively into their lives and share Jesus with them.
Widows are included with orphans. During Bible times and up until quite recently women and men lived at home until they married and they left their home to set up a new home with their spouse. The Bible prescribes that men are the providers and women the helpers. So when a woman loses her husband the provider is lost. Up until halfway through the last century women were not independent. Being unmarried was difficult and once married and widowed many women fell upon very hard times. This is still the case for many women. Strong’s also defines a widow as someone who is not just literally but figuratively missing a husband.
Once again we can look out for those around us who are single women either through divorce or death of their husband, and start to pray for them. Ask the Holy Spirit to plan opportunities for ministry, blessing and sharing Jesus. Look at life through your helping glasses; how can I help? How can I be a blessing? How can I bring God all the glory?