A test for self-deception
If there was an area of your life in which you were self-deceived, would you want to know it?
Published January 18th, 2017
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Main point summary
Religion that God values is compassionate in action and holy in character, while worthless 'religion' has uncontrolled speech.
Devotion / meditation
Trying to be religious is not a common goal here in the US, since it is so often tied to externalisms and rules made up by humans. But if we allow scripture to define our idea of religion, we might be surprised and challenged. If we're reading this, we most likely practice our faith in God, and may feel comfortable that this practice has meaning. But we may actually be deceiving ourselves. James 1:26 says that the uncontrolled speech of someone who thinks they are religious is a sign that they are self-deceived. Their religion is actually worthless. On the other hand, as James 1:27 says, the practice of our faith has value when it results in care for the weak and avoiding being polluted by the world. Questions for reflection 1. How does the possibility that you and I can deceive ourselves make you feel? Do you believe we are really as capable of self-deception as scripture says? 2. What does your speech reveal about your heart? 3. What are some needy groups that are within your sphere of influence? In our globalized, information saturated world, this question may lead to analysis paralysis. But just start near you and work your way out. Don't be afraid to think outside cultural or socioeconomic lines. Response How could you express your response to this passage in prayer to God? For further reading 1. How does Romans 12:1-12 add additional insight into remaining unpolluted by the world? 2. How does this passage relate to Christ's statement (in Matthew 15:1-20 and Mark 7:1-23) that what comes out of our mouths is from our heart? 3. What additional insight do we get about our speech from James 3:1-12?
If anyone thinks himself to be religious,
If we think we're religious
and yet does not 1 a bridle his tongue
and yet don't control our speech
but deceives his own heart,
(therefore deceiving ourselves)
this man’s religion is worthless.
then our 'religion' is worthless.
Pure and undefiled religion a in the sight of our God and Father is this:
On the other hand , this is the kind of religion God considers pure and undefiled:
to b visit c orphans and widows in their distress,
namely , visiting the needy, like orphans and widows
and to keep oneself unstained 1 by d the world.
and keeping from becoming spiritually polluted by the world.