Comfort the Fatherless and Widows
When is the last time you had the opportunity to take care of an orphan or a homeless widow? That predicament does not seem to come up that much – does it? Who are the fatherless and the widows today?
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit [with aid and care] the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
Has pure religion become passé in today’s world? Is relating to the elderly becoming a lost art in God’s Church? Orphans are almost always adopted, and in that way they are cared for. Widows have their Social Security or Supplemental Security Income to take care of their needs. Have governmental programs taken care of the obligation that was once the duty of the brethren?
When James wrote his epistle, the nuclear family was the norm. A nuclear family is one that is defined as consisting of a father, mother, and children. Back then, when the family unit was broken there were no governmental agencies for every eventuality.
For the most part, Church brethren do not encounter orphans on the street without a foster home or similar agency to provide care and financial assistance. Likewise, there are few instances of widows who are not being provided for with government or Church support. Some might conclude that a Christian only need keep himself unspotted from the world to be practicing pure religion.
How does a Christian practice pure religion in an increasingly socialized environment? How can we put these things together today, and how can we do what God intends? God wants us to be like He is, and there is no end of opportunities to apply the principles that James is alluding to here. Two of the major problems facing this nation are those of the fatherless teens and the neglected elderly.
These two factors alone account for a great deal of the social ills of this country. God does not view situations the same way that the world does. In order to signify His tenderness, mercy, and goodness to them; God speaks of the fatherless and the widow as His own children. He embraces those who are isolated and alone. Not only is God concerned for the fatherless and widows in their affliction; they have great influence with Him.
He is listening to the prayers of those who in their helplessness are crying out to Him.
The elderly are a veritable library of wisdom and an encyclopedia of experiences to draw from – and not to avail ourselves of their insight is a great loss to us. God is teaching us to have respect for our elders.
“The hoary head [gray hair] is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31)
God does not intend for people to face old age in dread, helplessness and need. God shows us how He respects those who are both weak – and those who have lost the vigor of youth.
“The Lord watches over the strangers; he sustains the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.” (Psalm 146:9)
We are to care about the orphans, the lonely, and widows just like Jesus did. Jesus is the advocate of the helpless and the widow. Jesus will come in judgment against those who mistreat the fatherless and the elderly.
“I will come near to you to judgment; … and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:5)
Jesus comforted those who were in distress. The reason that God comforts us is so that we will learn to comfort others. Notice this example of comfort that God gives us:
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
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