Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Proof is not in eating, but in living

Are you proud of the fast you have kept this year for Great Lent? You may want to take a step back and ask yourself if you have truly fasted, or was it just a diet. Many Orthodox Christians proudly boast of their ability to keep the strict fast, some even reading lengthy ingredients lists on package label. CLICK HERE for a sermon about the Publican and the Pharisee to hear about the danger of being proud during the Fast. But what about the rest of your life? Did you really fast? In today’s reading from Isaiah we are warned, quite harshly in fact, that the fast desired by God has nothing to do with eating and everything to do with living.

Isaiah 58:1-11 - Thus says the LORD: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.  Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.  'Why have we fasted, and thou seest it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and thou takest no knowledge of it?' Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.  Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.  Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?  "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?  Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.  Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, "Here I am." "If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.  And the LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

With just a few days left of the fast, here are few questions to ask yourself...
  • Have I fasted, but walked with pride?
  • Have I fasted, but worked to choose my own path and agenda?
  • Have I fasted, but refused to help others get set free from selfishness?
  • Have I fasted, but pointed my finger at the sin of others?

Great Lent can be a time for salvation or condemnation. The proof is not in the eating but the living. Thankfully it isn’t too late. You still have time.
  • Without giving up the fast, live a life worthy of the fast.
  • Without giving up the fast, help the poor.
  • Without giving up the fast, help a friend in need find hope in Christ.
  • Without giving up the fast, confess your own sin without considering the sin of others.
  • Without giving up the fast, spend the next week working for someone else’s agenda.

No comments: