“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness.” Isaiah 58:10
With e-mail and instant messages, the joy of letter writing—and, better yet, receiving letters—is almost a lost commodity. I love getting mail, especially from someone I deeply admire and appreciate. My dad used to write to me regularly, and at the bottom of each letter he would include his “life verses,” Isaiah 58:10-11.
In the broader context of this passage, the Israelites were feeling disconnected from God, although, in their minds, they were doing all the right things. So they filed a complaint. “Why have we fasted . . . and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?” (Isaiah 58:3).
God replied to their self-righteous grumbling by pointing out that though they were into all the rituals, they had neglected the things that were dear to His heart. So He tells them, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice . . . to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked to clothe him?” (Isaiah 58:6-7).
The point is clear. When we are actively doing what God really cares about, extending His love and compassion to the disadvantaged, we will find His favor and experience His presence. He assures us, “If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness” (Isaiah 58:10)
These verses were more than just a footnote on my dad’s letters. They guided his life and ministry. I watched him pour himself out for those who were hungry and homeless, caring for their physical needs as well as nurturing the hunger of their souls that were longing for an eternal home. Even on holidays, he would take the time to visit the widow who lived down the street. For my dad, ministering to the needs of people was not a job. It was his way of loving God and living out Isaiah 58:10-11.
If you wonder why God seems far away, could it be that you have ignored caring for those He cares about?
- Make a list of some things you do to feel connected to the Lord. How do those things compare to the list in Isaiah 58:1-14?
- Are you actively involved in doing the things that God wants you to do? If not, ask Him to show you what to do. Then be sure to do it, and watch His light shine!
- What is your “life verse”? If you don’t have one, choose one, memorize it, and be sure to live it out. It’s a great way to leave a lasting legacy!