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?
Christmas is almost here. Many times we make Christmas about “us” when God wishes it to be about others. These verses in Isaiah instruct us to “fast” our own desires and to do whatever we can for those in pain and 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. We are called to give ourselves away, but for our giving to change us, our motives must be right. Both fasting and giving involve personal sacrifice. Fasting imparts spiritual vision to recognize a need. Giving not only makes a difference in the person who receives but the one who gives.
“But when you give to the needy,” Jesus said, “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).
Have you ever known someone who makes a public announcement following an act of kindness or giving a gift? He appears generous, but perhaps he yearns for the recognition his act brings. In bringing attention to himself, he demonstrates selfish giving instead of selfless giving from a humble heart. He hungers for the acceptance 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 approval or acceptance. Giving without recognition is more than an acquired trait. In selfless giving, you spiritually receive a servant’s heart. Most importantly, you learn the greatest paradox of all―to die to self is to live unselfishly in Christ. If giving is to be life-changing to the giver, it is fueled by His grace.
Now read the promise in Isaiah 58:8-9a! “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: 'Here am I'” (Isaiah 58:6-8, NIV).
This is a season when needs are more evident. We have an opportunity to give ourselves away without the need for any recognition. Let's give quietly because He first loved us. Let's love with His love, and the promise of Isaiah 58:8-9 will break forth like the dawn. His love on Calvary was never about himself. It has always been and will always be unselfishly about us. His grace transforms and renews. Give unselfishly because that is what He did for you.
© 2018 Lynn Lacher
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