August 16: Bible in a Year: Psalms 94–96, Romans 15:14–33
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.
Today's Scripture & Insight: James 2:14–26
Sam’s father had to flee for his life during a military coup. With the sudden loss of income,
the family could no longer afford the crucial medicine that kept Sam’s brother alive.
Seething at God, Sam thought, What have we done to deserve this?
A believer in Jesus heard about the family’s troubles. Finding he had enough money to cover the medicine, he bought a supply and took it to them. The life-saving gift from a stranger had a profound impact. “This Sunday, we will go to this man’s church,” his mother declared. Sam’s anger began to subside. And eventually, one by one, each member of the family put their faith in Jesus.
When James wrote about the necessity of a lifestyle of integrity accompanying a profession of faith in Christ, he singled out the need to care for others. “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food,” James wrote. “If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (2:15–16).
Our actions demonstrate the genuineness of our faith. Significantly, those actions can influence the faith-choices of others. In Sam’s case, he became a pastor and church-planter. Eventually he would call the man who helped his family “Papa Mapes.” He now knew him as his spiritual father—the one who showed them the love of Jesus.
By: Tim Gustafson
James was the half-brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3). While Jesus’ siblings were slow in coming to faith, Paul tells us that Jesus appeared to James after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 1:19). As a result, James and his brothers are listed among the believers in the upper room in Acts 1:14. Following the execution of James the son of Zebedee and the brother of John (Acts 12:2), Christ’s brother James would become a leader in the church (v. 17; 15:13–29). Sometimes called “James the Just,” he was martyred for his faith around ad 60.
By: Bill Crowder