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 Vol. 6, No. 3 

March 2004

~ Page 14 ~

The True Test of Discipleship

By Roger Rush

Image James wrote: But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves... If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (James 1:21-27).

It is easy to talk a good religion, but it is quite another thing to live it. To hear the truth but not be changed by it will do no one any good. As the text says, we must be more than hearers; we must be doers. What does this entail?

Christianity is the religion of the bridled tongue. Our relationship with Jesus is reflected in the language we use, the things we talk about and the things we do not talk about. If we think we can follow Jesus while we embrace the language of the world, we are sadly mistaken. Religion without a bridled tongue is vain religion.

Christianity is the religion of the compassionate heart. We cannot be children of God while closing our hearts to the needs of those around us. Widows and orphans are representative of all who are in genuine need. The apostle John expressed it this way. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:17-18).

Christianity is the religion of the pure life. Paul wrote: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:1-2). We are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world!

Is our discipleship validated by a bridled tongue, a compassionate heart and a pure life? If we cannot truthfully answer in the affirmative to all three of these, our religion is vain!Image

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