and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit
orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from
the world. —James 1:27
In Jewish legend, the ushpizzin are guests who visit the pious at Sukkot,
the Feast of Tabernacles. They are supposedly the great Old Testament
heroes who come offering comfort and encouragement to the faithful.
According to Jewish lore, these unseen guests only visit the sukkah
(shelter) where the poor are welcome—a reminder of each person’s
responsibility to care for others. It also reminds them that unseen
watchers may be observing their conduct.
The story of the ushpizzin
isn’t true, of course. But beyond the lore and legend we are reminded
that we as Christ-followers are living observed lives. Others are
watching us. And our concern for others, particularly the least among
us, is an expression of the compassion Christ displayed to the hurting
and outcast of His generation.
James, the half-brother of Jesus,
challenged believers to put the love of Christ into practice. He wrote,
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to
visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself
unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
The example of Christ and
the words of Scripture inspire us to care for our hurting world. Who’s
watching us? Our world is watching. And so is our Lord! — Bill Crowder
FOR FURTHER STUDY
The church is made up of needy people—including us! How are we to
respond to each other’s needs? Read The Church We Need at
When people observe your life, do they see the love of Christ?