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Thursday, January 9, 2014


Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood” (Isaiah 58:6-7, NIV)?

These verses in Isaiah instruct me to “fast” my own desires and to do whatever I can for those in pain and in despair: to help those chained up in poverty―to help those struggling to break the yoke of sin―to share with those accused unjustly―to provide respite for those with no place of rest. I am called to give myself away, but for my giving to be pleasing to God, my motive must be right. Both fasting and giving involve personal sacrifice. Fasting imparts spiritual vision to recognize need. Giving blesses not only the person who receives, but the one who gives.

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:3-4, NIV).

If I need to make a public announcement following an act of kindness, I may appear to be altruistic, but I am really yearning for the recognition that such an act brings. In bringing attention to myself, I show that I give from a selfish heart instead of from a selfless one. There is pride instead of humility.

Why does a person need to declare he has given a gift? Why must he relate its value? He hungers for the recognition of man, and doesn’t consider that God wishes his hunger to be just for Him. Not only has this person missed the fact that giving in secret brings God’s reward, he misses another truth. When he quietly gives, he empties more than his pocketbook. He empties himself of the need for acceptance. Giving without recognition is not only an acquired trait. To be spiritually real and rewarded, it must always be spiritually fueled.

Do I give away my time and my money openly or secretly? Where does my acceptance lie? The Lord yearns for the lesson to take root in my heart. In selfless giving I spiritually receive a servant’s heart. Most importantly, I learn the greatest paradox of all―to die to self is to live unselfishly in Christ.

Now I can read the promise that follows in Isaiah 58:8-9. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply” (NLT ).

“Here I am!” Isaiah cried in the temple (Isaiah 6). Isaiah gave all of who he was to God. If I give myself away unselfishly in His name, then I will hear God reply, “And here am I!” He will continually take care of me. Whether mental, emotional, or spiritual, my wounds will heal. If I live a surrendered life, He will lead and protect me. And when I call, He will always answer.

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