Not hide yourself from your own flesh. Isaiah 58:7
READ: Isaiah 58:1-10
In Isaiah 58, we read a conversation God is having with Israel about the spiritual discipline of fasting. Through this conversation we quickly realise what the people thought they were doing is the right thing, really was not what God was looking for from them. There is nothing wrong with fasting, as long as it’s done with the right intention and attitude.
Fasting as we commonly know it, is going without food for a period of time and is accompanied with prayer. It’s a discipline we encourage everyone to do as they communicate with God, seeking to be closer to him and be positioned to hear with clarity what He is saying to us. Through the absence of food, it can feel uncomfortable and requires a lot more from us as we seek God. Because of this it’s usually the reason why most Christians do not practice regular fasting.
But has our knowledge of fasting changed? Personally, I think through Isaiah, God is encouraging His people to not be so “spiritual” (or what they think is being spiritual) and start using their faith combined with the practical expression of helping people. This applies to us, as not much has changed with the conversations we are having with God.
James said “…I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18) With God revealing what His chosen fast is, it shows us that there is more to spiritual discipline than to just hide away for prayer and fasting. There is a practical expression of our faith through helping people who are in need.
I can’t stop thinking about the story Jesus told about the Good Samaritan with the message of loving God with everything we have and also loving our neighbour as we love ourselves. The message was clear that the spiritual people who should be stopping to help, didn’t and hid themselves. Their love for God is not questioned, as I believe the priest and Levite do love God. But what was missing is to love God, and also loving our neighbour.
“We have this commandment from Him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:21
Spend some time today asking God to reveal the opportunities to help people and for the strength to do it.
It’s easy to hide ourselves behind our spiritual life from the great need we see around us. Over the next few days reflect how you can better serve God through helping people. The Good Samaritan story might be common to us, but it still sends a message that the people who should be helping are not helping.
How can the church change this? Why is it in our local communities the majority of organisations who help people are secular? Where is the church when people are in need of help?
Let’s together as a church be prepared to take steps to empower people and use the Gospel that has changed us to change them. Our response is to be a light that will break through the darkness and the help we give people will lead them to salvation.
You can make a difference through helping people.