While out at the store, I came across a wallet made of leather, and stamped into the leather wallet was the word “genuine.” For something to be genuine, it means it has to be real — to be pure, to not be counterfeit or fake in any way. I reached into my pocket to compare this wallet with my own, wondering how real my wallet was.
Both were black in color, both had a sleeve for cash and several sleeves for cards, etc. And both had a clear sleeve for a driver’s license. Now both wallets looked like they were leather and yet here I was, holding my wallet and now also holding a wallet that was marked as genuine. How genuine was my wallet then, in this side-by-side comparison, with the new wallet marked as “genuine?”
As followers of Christ, we must be genuine, and our lives must be stamped with this truth. We must understand though, in order for our lives to bear witness to a true, genuine faith in the Lord, then we must be devoted to taking in the word of God and then living it out. This is what we are to compare our lives to.
James 1:26-27 says: “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
This truth from James gives us three markers of what it means to be genuine in our pursuit of knowing God’s word and then living it out. First, tame your tongue. Second, care for those in need. And third, avoid worldliness. When we do these things, we walk in God’s word, we are more apt to have his stamp of “genuine” upon our lives. When we know this truth and live it out, we genuinely represent God to others.
We say we want to take in and live out God’s word. We say we want those around us to know we belong to the Lord. And we say we desire to have a genuine faith. And yet, our religion is useless if it doesn’t tame our tongues, if it doesn’t move our hearts to serve and if it doesn’t separate us, or distinguish us in word and deed from the rest of the world.
Take time to consider what the Lord may be speaking to you through these verses in James. Reflect on your journey with God, because it’s possible you’re looking to others and thinking you’re genuine in your faith, but you may be far from that truth. We cannot compare ourselves to others. We must compare ourselves to God and his Word.
So, when you look at your life — at what you think and believe, in what you say and do — are those actions and elements true, pure and genuine? One can compare wallets and hope or think they are the same, both being genuine, but the truth is only the one marked as genuine is the real deal. As a disciple of Christ, are you the real deal, or do you merely hope or simply think you are? Have you been deceived by your “religious” activities and busyness?
Controlling what we say, passionately caring for others, and remaining separate from the ways of the world — it will require you know God’s truth and abide in His truth. It requires of you to compare yourself to Christ and his holy word, not others. We cannot desire to influence the world around us if we are allowing the world to influence our thoughts, our words or our actions. May you make the time to reflect on this truth and then allow God to show you the condition of your heart.
Nick Emery is the senior pastor at Good Shepherd Wesleyan Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.