If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.
The NKJV version of James 1:21 says: "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."
The word “implanted” comes from the Greek word emphytos which means to be “implanted or rooted.” So James is essentially saying that the Word of God is like a seed that is rooted or implanted in the heart. The more we read it, the more it begins to shape our thoughts and actions because it becomes a part of us. And what happens when that seed grows? It develops into the beautiful Spirit of Christ!
This is why it can save our souls. But, James warns, we must not be hearers of the Word only, we must also be doers of the Word. We must live it out. Why? Because it reinforces within us the kind of people we now are in Christ. People who visit orphans and widows, feed the hungry, care for the homeless, visit the sick and keep themselves unspotted from the world.
In the verse above the words “religion” or “religious” comes from the Greek word thrēskeia which signifies “religion” in its external aspect. In other words – the outer trappings. It is meant in regards to the Jewish faith. This applies, I believe, to all religious institutions that put more emphasis on ceremony, rules or rituals than on caring for those in need (i.e., orphans and widows).
Our faith must be firmly rooted in the Word of God if we are to grow, but it mustn’t stop there. We must go out into the world to share God’s love with others.
Faith that works means going out into the world to spread God’s love.