“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 1:27
Our first year of marriage seemed to be the hardest and it was filled with many highs and lows. One day we were on top of the mountain of love and the next day we seemed to be in the valley fighting for our marriage. We were both "alphas" trying to be king of the hill; although I would say I was mostly at fault. I was much like a concrete wall, and I did not bend much, if at all. I thought marriage was about getting what I wanted, and I struggled in the area of compromise and the betterment of someone besides myself.
I am not sure the cause of the fight on this particular day, but we were pretty upset at each other. I think I am safe in saying I caused the fight, as this is how the story usually went. Rebekah always sought peace, and I wanted war. I was unreasonable and only sought my point of view and perspective, and I really did not want to entertain what she was saying. I got so mad that I did something quite foolish of which I am ashamed to admit.
In the heat of our argument, I took some of the pictures she had placed on the wall and put them into a box. I gathered some other things of hers and I placed them in the garage. I yelled at her to get out but she looked me and her eyes said, “No way Jose!” I got upset that she would not comply, and I thought to do something drastic. I opened the garage door, and I started to place her items on the driveway. I had made two or three trips to the driveway when I felt like someone was watching me. It was around 10 o’clock at night and it was dark outside. I looked around and did not see anyone initially, and then I looked closer and saw my neighbor. He was relaxing in a lawn chair taking in the night and seemed to be enjoying the amusement of my foolish actions. We made eye contact and he asked, “What 'cha doing?” I wanted to tell him that I was right and my wife was wrong, and she would not listen to reason, so I am asking her to move. I wanted to defend myself so badly, but there was really nothing to defend. I looked him in his eye and said, “That’s a great question.” He nodded and then continued on enjoying his night.
I felt foolish and I felt my foolishness was pointed out and exposed. I soon sheepishly gathered up all the items and put them back inside the house. I made things right with Rebekah, and I told her about the neighbor. I knew my neighbor would never take marriage counseling from me, and I was a bad testimony as to what a Christian should be.
We often live the same way where we say have "pure religion" but our actions betray us. We do things we should not do, and we hold onto bitterness and hate far too long. We complain about things we should be grateful for, and we have a melancholy spirit and disposition. Our attitude and temper do not highlight the life of a Christian and we point people away from Jesus Christ. We look a lot like the world, and we possess more spots than a leper. We forget that our lives are open before God, and He sees all things. There is nothing hidden from Him - even at 10 o’clock at night - and He sees our spots and defilements.
True religion is a real walk with God even when no one else is watching. A religion that is life-changing when you live as if He sees everything you do, because He does. A religion that truly changes who you are, not just for the times you are at church. Do you have a true religion? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Is the world changed by the religion you practice or are they turned from true religion by your foolish acts? Do you strive to be unspotted from the world or do you easily blend in? Mike Tyson wore a shirt before entering the ring that stated, “Be real!” Are you a real Christian or are do you simply put on an Oscar-winning performance? May we strive to live for God, and may we live and practice a pure religion.
Stay in the fight! Saso