Today you should read: Isaiah 58
We can have the right rituals & the wrong motives …
Have you ever tried to pursue God “faithfully” for a season, hoping that at the end He will give you what you desire; yet it just didn’t work out the way you waned? You thought that if you read just enough, pray with the right words, and are nice to certain people God will bless a relationship, provide an answer that you want sooner rather than later, allow you to be accepted into that program, or defend a situation you want to work out in your favor. Yet at the end, God didn’t seem to tally up your “points” how you thought. Not because He doesn’t love you, but because in His loving-kindness He had a better plan, a perfect plan, for your life.
Usually at the end of seasons like that we can see motives that were slightly “off.” Maybe our rituals were a little more for us, than for Him. (Take heart… God is gracious.)
But take this idea and amplify it by…. a lot…. and that’s what’s going on here. God’s people are “performing” for God with the motive of selfish gain, and Isaiah is called to confront it.
In Verses 3-5 of our passage it says,
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord?”
Although God’s people were performing right rituals, their heart was for their own pleasure and their own gain. Because of this they grew mad when God didn’t “notice” their “ great sacrifices” and give them what they “deserved.”
And this is what happens when we have wrong motives. It turns into a pride that says, “I deserve,” “Look what I have done,” and “I have earned…”
Be careful that your “right rituals” are for right reasons: to obey God, to bring glory to His name, to benefit His people, and to deepen your love and devotion to Him. It will allow your heart to be full of joy in Christ rather than disappointed in His “sub-par blessings.”
Posted by: Sam Cirrincione