Daily D – Isaiah 58:3
Isaiah 58:3 “‘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.” (NLT)
Q: How do you impress God?
A: Not by manipulative ritual.
A2: By matching a humble heart with right behavior that makes life better for everyone.
The Message paraphrases this chapter with powerful effect. Take a look at the first three verses:
“Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout! Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives, face my family Jacob with their sins! They’re busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about me. To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people— law-abiding, God-honoring. They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ and love having me on their side. But they also complain, ‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’ “Well, here’s why: “The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight. You fast, but you swing a mean fist. The kind of fasting you do won’t get your prayers off the ground. Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after: a day to show off humility? To put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in black? Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, God, would like?”
Isaiah 58:1-3 MSG
Why isn’t God impressed with us? Because our outward rituals are not matched by internal change bringing full expressions of God’s nature and character formed in us.
Why isn’t God impressed with us? Because we do not live what we say we believe.
Why isn’t God impressed with us? Because, for all of our church stuff, our heads, hearts, and hands are still busy with behavior that is all about exalting us.
I’m confident you and I do not need the full measure of this text’s hard truths. Let’s take a long look just to be sure, just in case something might not be quite right.
Here are some questions to assess our standing:
1. Am I more interested in impressing God or loving God?
2. Am I more apt to be hard on myself or hard on others, and does my hardness produce what is right, just, and fair?
3. Am I more interested in a ritual observed or a life changed?
4. Am I more interested in pleasing God or pleasing myself?
The most impressive thing to God?
* When we see ourselves as he sees us and make necessary adjustments to live in full alignment and attunement with him.
* When our heads, hearts, and hands move at the impulse of his love.
* When what is right, just, and fair for everyone is the increasing result of our well-lived lives.
I will impress God by hearing what he says and doing it, by living a life he can bless, and by generously sharing those blessings with others.
Our Father, impress your love and kindness into my life. Express your goodness and joy through me. Use me to build a better world shaped by your Kingdom truth and values. Deliver me from the temptation of trying to make you take action in my favor by empty rituals and false faith. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”