Reading: Isaiah 58: 9b-12
Isaiah calls upon faithful Israelites to live out their faith by being compassionate and by reaching out to the hungry and others in need. He calls for God’s people to break the yokes of oppression and to “spend” oneself meeting the needs of the less fortunate. There are two components that drive this call. One is outward and one is inward. The outward component is the love that flows throughout the Bible. The call to love one another without limitation is modeled by God in the covenant with Israel. It is the promise to love no matter what. This model is continued in the love for all of mankind exhibited and lived out by Jesus. The call to love our neighbors as self that began in Leviticus 19:18 is repeated in the New Testament ad Jesus declared this one of the two great commandments. This love involves “spending” oneself for others.
The second component is inward. When we live life as compassionate people spending ourself for others, then God is at work within us. When we are givers instead of takers, we see and live life in a new way. We ourselves become so much more aware of and grateful for all the ways that God blesses us. This inner attitude of gratitude is contagious, leading us to reach out to others, to meet their needs, to work to root out injustices they face, and to end any oppression that they are living under. When we are faithful in living out the gospel of love, God renews us with His love and watches over us with His care.
On our mission trip last summer, one group was working in a park. During a morning water break a man in need wandered over. The group gave him some water and talked with him for a few minutes. Later, at lunch time, a girl noticed the man on a bench across the park. She walked over and gave the man her sack lunch. Another youth brought over a bottle of water. Compassion for one in need. Loving others as God loves us. Thinking of others above self. It was a great witness to God’s love. May we too be willing bearers of the light and love of Christ.