Isaiah 58:3-9 "'Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?' Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness."
Have you ever done something and not really had your heart in it? It's hard keeping up the façade. So, we force a smile and press on—hoping we've made a good show of it to please the other person. But we're really eager to remove the mask hiding our insincerity.
It appears people have been acting like this a long time. Ancient Israel was no stranger to the idea of keeping up appearances. In fact, they went to great lengths to put on outward displays of obedience to God, even stating their case (which they assumed should be obvious to Him). No matter. Their heart wasn't into it, and they insulted God's knowledge by thinking He wouldn't see through their bogus charade (verses 6-9).
Jesus, too, rebuked false worship when He blasted the scribes and the Pharisees for their outward show and their hardness of hearts. Citing Isaiah, He said, "'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men" (see Mark 7:1-13).
The sad thing is, this is our nature, too. This is our cursed pride. Near-sighted and deaf to others' needs, we maintain the sham, deceiving ourselves and more than happy to do it.
But Christ has taken all of this to the cross—the pretense, the self-love, the glory-seeking, the game-playing, and false modesty. He's made an end of our sin, once and for all, through His shed blood, death, and glorious resurrection.
In its place, He extends to us a new life of loving God and showing compassion to others.
This life can be yours, too.
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, "take our lives and let them be, consecrated, Lord, to Thee." In Your Name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.
1. Can you recall the last time you did something for somebody that you really preferred not to do?
2. Why does there seem to be such an emphasis on issues of performing social justice in the Bible?
3. How important is it for us to be concerned about social issues?
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