Most of us know that fasting(abstaining from food/drink) is supposed to be something that followers of Jesus Christ are to do regularly for various reasons.
But how many of us have come across Isaiah 58, and know what fasting really is? Brethren, read through the passage and see the importance of it. Is our abstaining from food(or other “good deeds” for that matter) really accomplishing anything if we neglect what the Lord really wants from us, obedience. In Isaiah 58, the people of God were looking for God, were excited about God, did things for God, wanted to know His will, and heartily prayed a lot.(58:2)But still wondered why their “deeds” were not rewarded and it seemed that God was not listening or paying attention to it at all.(v 3)Israel believed that their acceptance by God was by their own works.They didn’t see that abstaining from food had nothing to do with what God wanted from them. And that they were fasting with the wrong motives, and not sorrowful; it was all a show (v 4,5). They were despising their neighbors and exploiting them. They were only thinking of themselves. True fasting is denial of self and the loving of others(God AND man). Hear the Lord:
Isa 58:6-7 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
How can we say we love God, who we don’t see, and yet not love our neighbor who we do see? Just “loving God” is not acceptable. (1John 4:7-21) Loving our neighbor IS loving God; it’s a package deal. We feign love for God if we neglect others and their needs. We are then liars. By this we will be judged. (Matt 25:31-46) whether we are sheep or goats; the obedient on the right(sheep), the liars on the left(goats). Did you deny yourself of daily comfort, so that you could relieve your neighbor in his affliction, his hunger, his lack of clothing, his lack of shelter? “Well done good and faithful servant“(Matt 25:21)….”Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” Did you turn from your brother’s need, when you had it in your hand to give or do? “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”
Does it seem like your prayers are not being answered? And that your walk the Lord seems to be stagnant, though you are doing, doing, doing for the Lord? Examine yourself, and whether you are truly obeying Him or just going through the motions. When we truly obey and walk in love for God and our neighbor it is His delight to answer our needs and enlighten our eyes, and guide us in His will.(Isaiah 58:8-12)(1John 3:16-24)
(Isaish58:13-14) Resting in the Lord’s work should be our delight. We need to fast from our own works, our ways, our own idea of pleasure, and our own opinions. Esteem and relieve others first above ourselves. When we do that, we can then without pretense say “I Love God” (Matt 25:35-40)