“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
An elderly widow man wrote me a letter some years ago with a donation after learning of my ministry work. His letter was brief, but included something which for him proved to be life-changing. He asked me to pray for him. I ended up speaking to him by phone and being given the great privilege of helping to point him back to the Lord from whom He had wandered, to the Word of God and a commitment to studying it, and encouraged him to find a local church with sound biblical teaching and to surround himself with male Christ followers to help him with his relationship with God. He and I had a number of phone conversations during which I continued encouraging him to follow the Lord, and we became like family. God’s family. I explained to him women Christ followers are not to teach and take authority over men, per the Bible, and continued to encourage him to reach out. Still, though he began to attend church, he refused to reach out to the men. In obedience to the Lord, as sad as I was to lose someone like family to me, I told him I had to step out of his life until he came into obedience to God and immersed himself in Christ’s body with men to love, encourage, help, support and teach him.
But my sadness was nothing compared with the tragedy I witnessed. Not for the first time nor for the last. The Lord has a heart for widows and admonishes us to have the same. To love and bless them. To help them. I asked numerous Christian men to reach out to this widow of God’s. They said no, or said they would and did not, or did and fell quickly away, or, in one case, only reached out to him periodically when I nagged, never from that man’s own heart reaching out to this widow without my asking.
The last time and one of the rare occasions I ever saw this widow in person, with a small group of people I had arranged so we would be with others, he said he had attended church long ago for years and that to his recollection I was the first person he had ever asked to pray for him. Then he had learned that I had prayed. He said he saw more love in my tiny action than he had felt from Christians during years of going to church.
This broke my heart. And still does. That we can profess to love God and be too self-consumed to see a broken world and make a sacrifice to love others in Christ’s name. Christ sacrificed His life for us. And yet for some of us even one minute of our lives we find too difficult to sacrifice for God and others. We should be ashamed of ourselves. And repent. And love the Lord with all our hearts – and others with His love. Are these not His greatest commands? Is it not time for us to repent?