Fasting that Pleases God

Isaiah 58:6-11

An everlasting impression was pressed into my memory as a child.  In the days of my childhood we had “hobos” who were at times seen in various parts of my hometown.   It was rumored that if they got help from a resident, the common practice was to mark the property with an “X.”  Evidently we had a big “X” somewhere in our front yard.

My godly mother was not one to turn away from what she considered to be a genuine need.  She also loved to cook.  Back then, the homesless made house calls.  When a hobo came to our home asking for money for food she would tell him to sit down on the porch while she prepared a plate of food.  She did not settle for a sandwich and chips.  Neither did she warm up leftovers.  She cooked a full-fledged hot meal and served it to the hobo on our good plates.  I cannot help but think that God smiled and nodded His “head” in approval.

Isaiah is not just talking about helping the needy in our scripture reading.  After discussing fasting that comes from the wrong motive in vss. 1-5, he turns to describe the type of fasting that pleases God.  Interestingly enough, fasting is more than going without food.  Properly practiced, it means to adopt a lifestyle in which self-satisfaction and greed are spurned while being replaced with a compassion for the poor and needy.  This pleases God and leads to His blessing.  This, my mother seemed to understand.

By Dr. Gayle Woods

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