Bird watchers learn songs, colors and flight patterns of birds. That’s so they can spot them. You have to know what a species looks like to be sure you’ve seen it.
This is true for religion and spirituality as well. Can you spot a religious person? Mark DeJesus published an article entitled “10 Signs You Have a Religious Spirit.” Included in his list are the following things: being argumentative and emotionally stiff, judging people on appearance and being closed to change.* Are you surprised? DeJesus believes being religious is bad. Like many people today, he defines the word religious as the counterfeit of a heart in tune with God. For him, being religious is the same as being a hypocrite.
But that isn’t the way the book of James uses the word religious. It uses the word in the opposite way, as one truly pleasing to God. Hear what James 1:26-27 says, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (NIV)
In other words, a truly religious person displays control of speech, helping those in need and avoiding the moral compromises of the culture. I hope James would find me, and you, to be religious.
*Mark DeJesus, “10 Signs You Have a Religious Spirit,” September 22, 2017, https://markdejesus.com/10-signs-religious-spirit/
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.