It is abundantly clear that God has put my wife into my life for the purpose of sanctification (among other things). During a recent six hour car ride from Pennsylvania, Whitney was sharing what she was learning from the Bible (sidenote: long car rides are some of our favorite time to talk and laugh together). She read a passage from Isaiah 58:
The kind of fasting you do won’t get your prayers off the ground. Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after: a day to show off humility? To put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in black? Do you call that fasting, a fast that I, YHWH, would like?
This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interest in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families (Isaiah 58:3-7)
You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men’ (Matthew 15:7-9).
John Sailhamer summarizes Isaiah 58:1-14 as follows:
The kind of repentance God required of his people is a contrite heart and a life of good works. There was little value in fasting if one’s life did not reflect compassion and obedience to the will of God.
What good is singing a song (hymn? chorus? psalm?), attending church, praying, fasting, or (even) reading my Bible if my actions and attitudes do not legitimate these practices. Thank God for grace to try again, for a holy dissatisfaction regarding my unholy life, and disdain at my hypocrisy.