I have wanted to read Isaiah for a while, and found an interesting theme in the first chapter. The prophet’s focus was on Judah and Jerusalem. They were living in the rebellion, and God’s patience had nearly run out. God was fed up with sacrifices that were presented by people with stone hearts.
I can imagine this chapter being read out loud by a deep-chested man with fire in his voice. This is what God wanted instead:
“16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17 learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.”
Why does God focus specifically on orphans and widows?
They couldn’t get jobs. They could only beg. They were the most vulnerable. They were easily forgotten. In many ways, nothing has changed.
It is hard to make ends meet with one paycheck split among a family. It is hard to want change if no better option is in sight.
I understand this, but I still look down on these people. Are they actually in a bad spot or just using the system? While we need to be good stewards, does God call us to make that judgement?
James 2 talks more about this, first in how we respond to brothers and sisters in Christ. If someone walks in who is smiling, has a great hairstyle and a trendy outfit, I’ll think nothing of going over to say hello. But someone rumpled, eyes down, I’ll think twice about it. I get so caught up in appearances.
Later in James 2 he writes,
“14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[b] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
How far around the world does God expect me to help people? I feel overwhelmed by Africa. But even if I don’t go that far, what am I doing for the foster kids down the road? The people in my town with cardboard signs? I so appreciate the work of the Union Gospel Mission and other organizations who connect those who are struggling with resources to rebuild their lives, including a Gospel message. But I don’t want to hide behind my checkbook and ignore the people.
God’s call is to get away from the comfortable screen of stereotypes and to live out a love that reaches deeper to address the mess of sin-stained lives. How is He calling me to do that right here?
God, please help us to not become stone-hearted, but understand ways to share Your love with the people who most need it in society. You rattled many cages while You were here. Please rattle mine. Amen.