Religion is the regular practice and maintenance of our personal relationship with God. James 1:27 says the litmus test of genuine religion is, "...to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." This verse helps us understand that the most important foci of our reverent practice is:
- An emphasis on helping the most needy
- A concentration on our personal spiritual development
Unwisely, some stress the importance of one over the other. The extreme of the former is a compassionate social activism which neglects one's spiritual accountability. Of the latter; a monastic seclusion which separates the "sanctified" from the world's pain. A Sacrificial love of humanity that ignores personal holiness helps others but provides no eternal reciprocal benefit. Personal consecration that overlooks service to humanity is myopic and self-absorbed.
Visiting widows and orphans while increasing personal sanctification allows the dual practitioner to effectively help humanity without torpedoing their own personal progress. The benefit derived: a life lived right and lived well...