Hi friend! Welcome to episode 18 of Tending Your Soul Podcast! I’m Mariel and I’m excited to have you joining me today as we close out James 1. We have been tending our soul through the 1st chapter of the book of James these last 10 episodes and I am praying the Lord is pressing the seed of His Word into the soil of our hearts as only He can.
We have walked through this chapter only a couple verses at a time because our goal has not been to get through the chapter but rather to know God better through His Word. We have been using my TEND method of Bible study which is a simple guide that helps us unfold the Word slowly and intentionally and invites us to respond to the word of God in an applicable way.
The TEND method begins with T which stands for take time to pray so let’s open our time in prayer.
God, we thank you for the gift of your word. Would you open our eyes to see wonderful things in it today and enable us to respond to your word by your grace? Amen.
When we tend through verses, we want to be sure we are looking at them in context, so I invite you to listen to all of this first chapter in James starting with episode 8, if you have missed any or even open your own Bible and read James 1 in its entirety. This will help you gain context.
Now let’s move to E and examine these closing verses of James 1. Verses 26-27.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep one’s self unstained from the world.
James certainly wasn’t one to mince words, was he? He is pretty straight forward here and didn’t beat around the bush!
Worthless religion is a faith that fails to be lived out. We can say all we want to say and attend church or bible study all we want, but if our words or our actions are denying God’s word, we might need to reexamine where we stand.
As we move to N in TEND and notice the lessons in these 2 verses, it can be helpful to use another acronym, SPACE. This is a list of simple questions we ask the text. Is there a sin to confess? Is there a promise to claim? Is there an action to mimic? Is there a command to obey or an example to follow?
When we look at these 2 verses through the filter of this list, the Holy Spirit highlights lessons that tend to emerge for us. One lesson might be that we sin when we consider ourselves godly or religious but fail to guard our tongue.
Another lesson I see is that God is our Father and He desires us to put faith to action, in this example it is to visit the marginal, to care for them. And to keep oneself from the stain of the world.
He doesn’t say to keep oneself from the world, but rather unstained from the world.
We are part of the world and as believers we must be educated about what is going on in the world. How else can we pray for, serve, visit and meet the needs of those around us?
But we are to remain unstained by the world. That is, we are to be affecting the world more than the world is affecting us. We are called to leave a mark but not be marked.
So as we consider these lessons and turn them into a question we can respond to, we might ask ourselves HOW? How do I live in, engage in, visit and serve those in the world without becoming stained by it?
We might also ask ourselves how am I letting the gospel of Jesus transform every area of my life…my words, my thoughts, my actions?
This isn’t easy. This isn’t meant to be easy. You and I are meant to NEED God!
There is NO WAY you and I will remain unstained by the world apart from Christ. Honestly, the issue isn’t even the sin stain on the world as much as it is the pull of sin from within our own hearts. God came to live a perfect, stainless life and die as the sacrificial payment for our sin-stained heart so that those who surrender to Him will be washed white as snow. We still tend towards sin, but we get to lean hard on the Savior who offers a way out. And that is the gospel message.
So for me, how can I let the gospel transform my words to bridle my tongue, or let it affect my service of others or even keep me unstained? Well that requires a consistent rhythm of lean into the Word of God to let God remove the dross that rises to the surface and purify my heart in Him. 1 John 1:9 promises me that when I confess my sin, he is faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. So, I need to continually come to Him for that cleansing.
I too easily let me unbridled tongue run and I too easily forget to serve those who need me and it’s way to easily let the stain of the world seep into my soul through social media and tv. But when I keep my rhythm of consistency with God. Time spent daily pouring out to Him and opening His word and inviting Him to tend its truth into my soul, then I find peace, hope and joy in my intimacy with Him.
What about you, friend? Where do you sense the Holy Spirit’s gentle invitation to lean into Him for forgiveness, grace and guidance today?
How might you respond to His Word for you? What area of your life do you need to let the gospel transform little by little?
Let’s ask the Gardener of our soul to press the truth deep into our hearts today and show us our next step towards obedience to His word.
Lord, we thank you for the truth of the gospel and how it enables us to live from the overflow of the grace we have received. Show me for today my next step to bridle my tongue, visit those in need and how to live in this world in love while guarding my heart from its temptations. By your grace and for your glory. Amen.
I hope this time of tending through James 1 has been encouraging for you as you have leaned in to allow the Gardener to tend your soul with His Word.
If you would like to continue tending through James, you can get the Tending through James journal on my website at marieldavenport.com/shop
And if you are looking for a small online community to continue tending your soul with, I want to invite you to consider Tending Together, my private online community on the Mighty Networks platform. We are in a series on the armor of God in that community and would love for you to join us as we armor up!
You can find out details about it HERE. I’ll drop a link for you in the show notes.
Until next time, keep tending your soul by the Word of God.