March 18, 2016

Isaiah 58:1-14

Christ reminds us again and again: True worship is feeding his sheep (John 21:15-18). Isaiah says it (58:7-8). James says it (James 1:27). Paul says it (2 Corinthians 8). Peter realizes it after being humbled by those words. The poor will always be with us, and they need help.

Maybe they could have made wiser decisions, or maybe someone left them out in the cold, or maybe they’ve done everything they could and still have to survive on the generosity of strangers. Do not deny the opportunity to worship our Savior because you want them to earn their fish instead of offering them one of yours. Use your judgment to find those in need instead of perceiving their need as a weakness of their character. Also, it’s easier to learn to fish from someone who knows how so you can teach them as you meet their need (think of those who helped establish you).

One disclaimer is to monitor your motivation. 1 Corinthians 13:3 says: “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Isaiah describes the worship of Israel as hypocrisy. They pretended to fast and staged it up, but then they turned against their brothers and oppressed them. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet…as the hypocrites do…that they may be praised by others, …but when you give…do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:2-3). Seek not praise, except that which is directed to the name of God.