"If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion means caring for orphans and widows and refusing to let the world corrupt you." - James 1:26-27 (New Living Translation)
Have you noticed that the people who have the most to say about the orthodoxy or correctness of Christian doctrine are often not the people who actually do the work of Christ?
The religious rulers of Jesus' day had a lot to say about the law and the legacy of the prophets, but the Good Samaritan whom Jesus urged us to emulate spoke no words of religious rhetoric. The Good Samaritan's witness was only spoken through the care and compassion he demonstrated to a wounded traveler along a hazardous road.
The religious friends who came to see Job as he laid upon his bed of affliction had a lot to say about human condition and divine retribution. However, none of it was helpful to Job. If they could have remained reverently silent but lovingly present in the face of Job's inexplicable pain, their visit would have meant so much more to all of us.
The real crux of our Christian witness is not about our creeds but our deeds. Caring for orphans and widows - the vulnerable among us - doesn't require many words, but it does require moral initiative and ethical responsibility.
Dr. Fred Craddock, my seminary homiletics professor would tell us: "Preach Christ. And use words if you have to." Words really can get in the way of those of us who really need to see Christ.
Dear God, please let what we say be a brief commentary on what we do to demonstrate your presence. Amen.
From UCC's Still Speaking Devotionals.Visit UCC.org