True Fasting Week 02
“Why have we fasted,” they say, “and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?” ‘Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarrelling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.’ – Isaiah 58:3-4
Have you ever complained that something doesn’t work, only to realise that you hadn’t actually understood what it was really supposed to do?! In today’s passage we sense the frustration of the Israelites as they complain to God that he doesn’t seem to have noticed their fasting. He’s not responded as they hoped and fulfilled what they perceive to be his side of the deal.
The problem is that they haven’t realised that fasting isn’t some spiritual strategy to get what we want from God. He’s not some eternal vending machine who responds to certain practices by giving us what we want.
God responds to their complaint by unveiling their hypocrisy – a holy practice has been applied by unholy people and become meaningless. Exploitation of workers, quarrelling and fighting reveal hearts that have not been transformed and their fasting doesn’t go any deeper than outward appearances.
We are reminded in 1 Samuel 16:7 that:
‘The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’
It is vital that we don’t let too much distance grow between what we say and what we do, otherwise we fall into the trap of hypocrisy and inauthenticity. If we say we love God, do we show that to other people? If we say we believe in the power of the Gospel are we actually taking steps to share that with others?
Let’s pray together:
Lord as we examine our hearts and our practices this week, help us to do all things from an attitude of love for you and for others – reveal to us where we have slipped into hypocrisy and restore us to be more like you. Amen