“True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.” – James 1: 27 (CEB)
I will confess from the beginning that I am aware the scripture above does not even once mention the word worship explicitly. However, it does refer to liturgy. No, it doesn't use the Greek word leitourgia, but leitourgia translates as the work of the people. And surely, the above passage is about the work of God’s people.
Our worship should be moments when we are truly devoted to God. The moments in our life when we lay ourselves before Him, naked and exposed. The moments of our lives when we give ourselves truly to Him.
And yet, here we have the author of James tell us that true devotion occurs in two ways: caring for those who cannot care for themselves and by keeping the world from contaminating us.
So often it seems like people put their worship of God into little boxes. For some that box is a certain music style, for some it is prayer, for some it is mission. But the boxes are small and confined. Once an individual has made a connection with God inside of their little box, they are content. They feel like their devotion to God may have reached its maximum potential.
And then we get called out through these words. We get called out that our devotion is true when we obey those two commands. Caring for those in need and prevention of contamination from the pleasures and desires of the world. We are not participating in true, pure and faultless liturgy unless we are doing those two things. Every time we come before God, no matter how we worship, we need to be obeying these commands that are echoes of Christ’s commands to love God and love our neighbor (Matthew 22: 37-40).
The next time you present yourself to God in full devotion, I pray that it is pure and faultless. It is my hope that every ounce of your life, of your worship, is devoted to obeying these commands.
- Joseph Palmer