27 True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.
Being widowed or orphaned in Jesus’ time left women and children exposed to the cruelest exploitation, just as it still does today. If the extended family could not or would not care for them, they were left to beg on the streets. The Jewish tradition had a tithe that was used to care for the destitute, but even this was abused by people seeking a way around paying the tithe. Jesus addressed this abuse of the law with the Pharisees; however, the Roman state made no provisions for widows and orphans. You were left dependent on extended family for charity or completely on your own having lost your status and your place in society.
Concern for widows and orphans in the early church was addressed by Peter and Paul. In Acts, deacons were appointed to be in charge of the daily feeding of the large numbers of poor widows. Caring for the less fortunate members of the Christian community was understood to come from a deep love and reverence for God. God is “a father of the fatherless, a defender of widows.” (Psalm 68:5) Jesus, even on the cross, made sure his mother, Mary, was left in the care of “the disciple Jesus loved.” (John 19:27). By this act, Jesus demonstrated his love for God and his mother.
True devotion to God is not just saying we are devoted, it’s shown by how we act. When we are truly devoted to serving God, our lives are reflections of Christ in us, showing compassion to others. Our lives are living examples to others of our beliefs. We show God’s love to others through our care for the “least of these.”
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
We can show true devotion to God in the small things we do for others by showing compassion and caring for others each day. Who do you know that has recently lost a spouse? Make a phone call to check in, send a card to brighten their day, visit them at home, spend time after church to go over and talk with them, invite them to share a cup of coffee or a meal. There are many ways to show people that we care. And one small act of kindness can make all the difference in the life of that person who will experience the love of God shining through us.
Prayer: Holy and loving God, open our eyes to those around us who need to experience your love through our actions of compassion and care. Amen.