Topic: Orphan and Foster Care Scripture: James 1:27
True religion – caring for orphans
There is a global orphan crisis today. Globally, more than 153 million children have lost parents and are, by definition, considered orphaned. Added to that number are millions more street and trafficked children with no parental influence in their lives, easily making the estimated number of orphaned and abandoned children well into the hundreds of millions.
Jesus’ brother, James, cuts to the chase about the importance of caring for orphans. To understand what James says about this in context, read James 1:19-27.
James 1:27, Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
In the context of 1:19-27, what does James mean by saying, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father”?
“To visit” – is the same root word for “overseer” (elder). It means, “To care for or look after, to see to. The word is used of God many times in the Scripture. When God “visits” he gets personally involved. He saves, redeems, activates blessing. (For example, Luke 1:68).
So what is James saying true “religion” is? Read Isaiah 1:17, Psalm 82:3. What are reasons that orphans should be a special focus of Christian care?
Read Deuteronomy 10:17–18, Psalm 146:9, Psalm 68:5, Psalm 10:14. What is the greatest reason true religion includes helping orphans?
With such a massive orphan crisis, what difference can one person make? How does Deuteronomy 24:19 illustrate ways to care for orphans?
Consider the meaning of adoption from the Scriptures. Before Jesus went to the cross, he said to his disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18). He was not just talking about appearing to them after his resurrection. He was talking about sending them the Holy Spirit, whom the Father would send in Jesus’ name to indwell them.
Paull calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:15). God the Father didn’t just outwardly add us to the family of his Son. He put the very Spirit of his Son in us, giving us his spiritual genetic code, and causing us to know and love God as our Father.
The adoption price was not cheap. It cost the life, the very body and blood of Jesus, the Son of God. When Jesus returns he will complete the fullness of our adoption in which our bodies are redeemed to live sin-free and death-free in God’s forever family (Romans 8:23). Read Ephesians 1:4-7.
Discuss how the Scriptural teaching on adoption gives meaning and priority to adoption as a way to care for orphans. What are other specific ways that we can participate in caring for orphans that we have not already talked about?