“Devotion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction…” -James 1:27
In a world with so much going on, why should we care for widows? Even more, why does James equate it with pure devotion to God? That seems a bit extreme and randomly specific, right? Aren’t there more pressing needs, more needy people? But the Lord cares about the small, insignificant things/ he cares for needs great and small. And often what we count as great, he counts as small, and what we see as insignificant, He dearly prizes.
Learning to care for widows is learning to love as Jesus loved. Sometimes a small, easy act can reach deep in to the heart of another. Jesus showed care for those who had been suffering for years, as well as those who’s grief was fresh. He didn’t only bless them and pray for them. He touched their physical needs and deeply affected their hearts.
We all want to be loved. As Christians we want to feel the love of God more fully & near, as evidenced by our songs, prayers, and Facebook memes. We all seek and need community as we’re called to be the body of Christ together. But the best way to have community is to be it. The greatest way to receive and feel God’s love is to show it. This is how the kingdom of God works. The more we seek love for ourselves, the further it flees from us. But when we lose our lives for His sake through serving others, we find it. This holds true in your marriage, with your co-workers, kids, neighbors, etc. We need to stop focusing on finding and feeling love, and star seeking ways to give it. Only then will we truly love and know what it means to be loved.
But the best way to have community is to be it. The greatest way to receive and feel God’s love is to show it. This is how the kingdom of God works.
Throughout scripture the Lord reminds and calls his people to care about the oppressed, orphans, widows, and foreigners. These are the peoples that most of us neglect and forget about, the most vulnerable in our societies. But in the Lord’s kingdom, that is upside-down from the world, these people are just as significant and important as everyone else. In the upside-down kingdom, the crippled are cherished as kings, the orphan as a beloved son, the widow as a beaming bride. Seeing Jesus in all people, loving all people as Jesus, means that all people have infinite dignity and worth. Jesus’ discussion of “the least of these” is not meant to belittle, but to elevate. Those we see as the least, or fail to see at all, are to be esteemed and loved as our Lord himself.
There are many more captivation and urgent needs such as helping orphans, fighting human trafficking, etc. And many of us do need to be actively fighting for justice in those areas. But it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the need and problems of the world. “What if I have no skills to fight trafficking?” “What if I cannot adopt an orphan?” “What if I have no money to give to the third world?” You can start by blessing a widow down the street from you. It’s as simple as sharing a meal, offering to mow a lawn, or just visiting and talking. They’re all around you, on your block, in your church, in your family. And perhaps the Lord wants you to reach out and be a blessing, and through that, be blessed.