ONE SUNDAY in May, I called Ana, a friend of mine who was interested in selling her house. I decided to offer her my services to help her in the sale, but she said, «Patricia, I don’t want to have to employ any real estate agent. If God wants and it is His will, I know He will help me to sell my house without needing anyone else.»
The tone of her voice indicated to me that something was not going well.
«Don’t worry,» I said. «I understand perfectly, but would you allow me to visit you to pray for you?’
For some reason, I felt moved to drive for more than an hour, at night and in a terrible downpour, to go and pray with Ana. When I arrived at her home; I opened my Bible and shared Isaiah 59:19 with her: «When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.» While I was speaking a little about the meaning of the passage, tears began to run down Ana’s face. She told me her story and her health problems. We prayed and I said goodbye.
Days later, Ana expressed to me how blessed she felt. God had sent her a message through me; as for me, I also felt blessed by the experience. According to James 1:27, pure religion (which is not of forms, but of depth; not of appearances, but of truth) has two requirements: taking care of and not getting spotted by sin. Where this verse says, «taking care of,» other versions say visit.» The word in the original Greek is episkeptestbai, which literally means «to inspect, Inspector.» That is the work of the Christian woman: «to inspect» or «evaluate» a need; to «examine» it to see what can be done about it; and finally, to visit,» do something.
True religion is recognized because the external evidences of what the person is correspond to those of a converted heart. How would it be if, in our lives, we gave evidence of being converted by practicing «inspections,» visits, or «caring for» our neighbor who is suffering? If we do so, we will be putting into practice half of what pure religion consists in. While we help our neighbor, it is difficult to have time for getting stained with the wickedness of the world.
«A religion that is pure and stainless according to God the Father is this: to take care of orphans and widows who are suffering, and to keep oneself unstained by the world» (James 1:27, ISV).