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 in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:26-27 NLT
From the text, James is describing someone who claims to be religious but will not obey God’s word. Pure religion is not focused on the externals of religious actions such as rituals, ceremonies, religious observances and special days. Pure religion is living out one’s faith in God, practicing what the word of God says, and sharing His word to others. We live out our relationship with God through our speech. Our speech is as much a part of our personalities as our faces are, but it has the ability to tell the world much more. Our thoughts, our motives, our worries, our joys, our preferences, our dislikes, our distrusts, and our fears can all be communicated by our speech. This is why the word of God asserts that the tongue is a reliable gauge of true spirituality. Spiritual maturity is about being a doer of the word. If we claim that we are listening to God’s word and our speaking has not changed and remains vulgar, speaks profanities, and contains gossip, the word of God has no effect in our lives. If our claim of being religious has no effect in the way we speak, our influence will not be used by God for it will be inconsistent to our claim that we are His followers. Instead of using our speech to hurt others, God wants His children to do otherwise; encouraging and uplifting others. Offer of prayers, coming to attend worship activities, and learning with others from His word are good practices that need to be nurtured. But these activities could become expressions of external spirituality if they are not affecting real life. James said that Christians ought to express their religion by being benevolent toward the neglected and by strict observance of personal morality. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (James 1:27). What is described from the text is to look out for opportunities to minister the love of God to those who are in desperate need. As we reach out to those who are in dire need, we are also warned to not be influenced by the evils of the world that seek out to draw us away from Christ. God must be the one who influences our life, not the society and the world. The world does not listen to God, does not repent from their sin, and opposes those who serve God. This is a critical facet of pure religion. Pure religion that is manifested by the transformation of the whole of Christian life will look at every opportunity to serve as an expression of worship of God.