Main point summary
Our religion must be sufficient to change the way we live for it to be considered of any value before God.
If anyone thinks he is religious
Whenever a person thinks of himself as religious,
q and does not bridle his tongue
but, surprisingly , this religion does not affect his speech
but deceives his heart,
the result is the person becomes self-deceived (thinking his religion to be more valuable than it is).
this person’s r religion is worthless.
And the only conclusion we can draw in this scenario is that this person's religion is worthless.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
On the contrary, the type of religion that is not worthless, but rather pure and undefiled before God the Father, is characterized
s to visit t orphans and widows in their affliction,
firs t by external acts of love, such as visiting orphans and widows in their affliction
and u to keep oneself v unstained from the world.
and second , by internal moral reform, such as keeping oneself unstained from the world.
In April 2017, US News and World Reports published an article claiming that the world is becoming more religious. They claimed that in 2015, 84% of the world was religious and by 2060 that population would rise to 87%. While this may seem like good news for religious people, it is important to note that, according to James 1:26–27, some religion is worthless. James claims that whenever a person considers themself religious, but that religion does not lead them to control the way they speak, their religion is merely an exercise in self-deception. This kind of religion is of no value at all. The very fact that we can be deceived about the value of our religion raises an important question. Who is to say what makes religion valuable in the first place? Is value like beauty? Is it something that merely exists in the eyes of the beholder? James answers no. In the final analysis, religion is valuable if, and only if, it is accepted by God. If God rejects our religion, it is worthless. On the other hand, if He accepts it, it is priceless. So, is there any way to test our religion to see if it is the type that God will accept? James offers a two question test to help us determine the value of our religion in God's eyes. First, does our religion affect the way we treat others? Does our religion lead us to care for orphans and widows when they suffer? Second, does our religion affect our own moral lives? Are we primarily the product of the culture and world in which we live? Or, does our religion call us to stand apart based on a moral vision that supersedes the culture in which we live? It is, perhaps, possible to condense this test into one overarching question, "does our religion change the way we live?" If our religion exists merely to confirm our preferences and behaviors, rather than to change them, then we should beware. In this case, it is likely that we have merely deceived ourselves into valuing a religion that God considers worthless.