Isaiah 58:6-7–Tell my people Israel of their sins! Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.
3 ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers.
4 What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.
5 You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord?
6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
Here in Isaiah 58 we again have an instance where people are paying lip service in their relationship with God, and not doing anything with it. The outside looks great. They are fasting…but with the wrong motives, and with the wrong coreesponding actions. They are fasting but not obeying.
They aren't doing it right.
We need to be careful not to get so caught up in making sure we are doing one aspect of our relationship with God while neglecting the others.
Following Christ is more than mere lip service. It is more than just going to church and reading your Bible.
It's about action. It's about doing.
James 2:14-17– What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
This week has been challenging in making us think about what we are doing to help those in need, particularly the poor, orphan, widow, foreigner, and even family member.
This is what God wants–The kind of love that shows itself in a love for others.
We know this, but do we do it?
Or have we become so caught up in our own comfort and well-being that we forget about others?
It's more, much more, than outer appearances. It is much more than going to church on Sunday and reading your Bible. Empty religious ritual means nothing.
It is about a real, thriving, growing relationship with Jesus. One that puts feet to words, and actions to faith.
We can do everything right on the outside. But what is going on in our hearts?
Are we doing one thing while neglecting the other?
Here, the chapter is about fasting. And that seems like such a holy and righteous thing to do
But if it is done with the wrong motive, with the wrong heart, what good is it?
Again, we have been challenged this week to get involved in messy alives around us.
I guarantee the involvement may be hard…strenuous…stressful…but infinitely rewarding.
Have a great weekend, and I look forward to seeing you at the Parade on Saturday and Sunday Service at Old Shawnee Days!!!