When people, pastors, or preachers start talking about fasting I get all
tense and irritable. Since I was a little girl I have fought with my weight. You know, it is really hard to fast or diet when you are hungry. That gnawing, piercing feeling starts in the pit of your stomach and makes your bones ache. I get so snappish and waspish. Self-control seems just beyond my grasp.
I think about Isaiah 58 when someone mentions fasting. Have you read that one lately? It seems to illustrate God's heart for how He wants His people to act. The key is all the blessings that we receive when we act the way God would have us act.
The true fast that delights the LORD God is two fold.
1. Abstain from any kind of oppression. There is a huge sermon in that one phrase. What does oppression entail? The Hebrew comes from a primitive root that means to crack in pieces, literally or figuratively: - break, bruise, crush, discourage, oppress, struggle together. This sounds a lot like how some Christians treat other Christians.
When I'd stumble and scrape my knee or hurt myself some other way, my Mom used to say, "Boy, if you do that to yourself, what would you do to me?" It was meant as a joke to take my mind off the hurt, but what a truism that can be when one thinks about how often we do not adhere to the Golden Rule.
2. Maintain the open hand of benevolence and mercy toward the destitute. Another huge sermon. Although, we Christians do not do such a bad job with this one. We have ministries, and we have food pantries, second-hand clothes, benevolent funds, give to co-operative programs, and send out missionaries, help our youth to participate in youth programs, and so forth. But it goes further than that. We are not to hide ourselves from our own flesh as part of this benevolence.
Paul describes it best, I think, in 1Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
What blessings do we receive from these heart actions? For it must come from the heart, with the righteous attitude. Going through the motions is what God was condemning them about in Isaiah 58.
We glow in the dark.
2. Our lives are bathed in sunlight.
3. We have a full life with strong muscles and bones
4. We are a well watered garden with a gurgling spring
5. We have rebuilt foundations
6. We are restored!
7. We are FREE to enjoy God!
Cool! I want to glow in the dark. Do you?