"But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:25-27
The third theme in chapter one is that of serving. How you serve is a reflection of what you believe.
What does it mean to serve?
James gives us a couple of insights.
True religion, is faith that serves God and others who are in need.
The key to serving God is obedience. You must listen to the Word and learn the Word so you can live the Word. Until you live it you don't believe it. Until you live it you haven't learned it.
In order to obey God you must deal with the sin that is revealed in your life from looking into the Bible - a moral mirror. That is where obedience begins. You can't disregard the Word and dismiss the conviction of the Holy Spirit and expect to serve God. Getting right with God takes your focus off of you and gets you focused on what matters to God.
What matters to God is helping the helpless people Whom He loves. He mentions a couple of them - widows and orphans.
Faith works out through service. Faith exercises obedience by caring for those God cares about. There are needs all around you that you could meet if you were to get your eyes off of yourself and your suffering. Obedience opens your heart to God and your eyes to the needs of others.
How is your religion? Are you living what you say you believe? Is there unconfessed sin in your life? Are there some sinful attitudes or unhealthy habits you are nurturing in your spirit?
If you are not living your faith you don't really have a faith. Your religion is worthless.