Scripture Reading for Saturday, March 8th
Reading: Isaiah 58
Fasting Isn't About Us
Today we turn to the Old Testament. You may wonder what Isaiah has to say to us about the season of Lent, the answer is 'fasting'. As followers of Jesus Christ we have inherited in a new way the special relationship between God and people that went before, namely the covenant of God with the hebrew nation. Part of that heritage is the adoption of several aspects of the Hebrew people, the most prominent being a day of rest (Sabbath) and another being the spiritual discipline of fasting.
As I wrote about earlier, fasting isn't something newly devised by Christians for the season of lent; it's roots lie in our submission to God. As we fast, and as we honor God's sabbath we open ourselves to God's restoration and blessing. This is not a transaction though, we aren't buying God's grace with our actions; rather it is a mutual honor to and of each other.
It is easy to turn fasting into something that is about us, our needs, our appearance before others. God reminds us that fasting, and participation in his covenant is for us yes, but we are not the end of the story, he has so much more to do through us to bring the healing of his covenant of grace and peace to a hurting world. Fasting then, is also a chance to take the focus off of ourselves and put it on others in the name of our loving God.
Isaiah, speaking for the Lord, reminds us that the fasting God wishes is a fast that brings about the things he is interested in; justice for the oppressed, feeding of the hungry.
As you fast during this season how can you make those times in which you would have partaken of food, or entertainment, or some other self-oriented activity and turn that into an offering to God?
Father, we praise your name today and give thanks to you for your abundant gifts of mercy. We humbly ask today for your forgiveness for those times in which we have turned a blind eye to the suffering of those around us and have instead chosen to make ourselves more important than we should. Give us eyes today to see those opportunities around us to honor you and your Kingdom through acts of generosity and mercy.