It was with amusement that I started this reading today. “Wounded Eyesight” and there was I unable to find my glasses, holding the booklet with arms stretched out, trying desperately to focus on the small printed words. Wounded Eyesight. Yes, indeed!
When I could finally focus, I enjoyed today’s scripture reading Isa 58:6-8. I love the way Isaiah warns of legalism; that, although fasting, almsgiving and prayer are 3 pillars of Christian life, they are not complete without a heart surrendered to Jesus.
I am sure we are all familiar with people who trumpet their super spirituality with personal anecdotes of giving and service disguised within their public prayers of “thanksgiving” or “teaching moments” for disciples. This type of behaviour is so obvious. But, before I become a braggart myself, boasting of how I keep my good deeds private, I decided to spend this day considering what I can learn and apply from this bible verse.
As I searched through my now ripped open heart (see day 1), I saw a few shards of evidence that I do need this exhortation as much as any other struggling pilgrim. This is why.
Many times I have brought up the church where I was wounded deeply. Truthfully, when I think about how I was hurt, I become self-righteous. I realize that now. I let out a long-suffering sigh to myself and think (or say): “After all those years of faithful service, attendance and giving, how could they have treated me like this? I was so good …”
But, you know what? Isaiah is saying that my faithfulness should never have been about them. It was always about God. It’s not about being part of a church, and being “so good” that when life deals me some challenges, they owe it to me to be “good” back. No. Nobody owes me. Faithfulness that is acceptable to God comes from a heart that is centred around Jesus; A heart that seeks to do His will and bring Him pleasure. In the end, it’s about the motivation – not the actions. Whatever I do, should be done for God. Period. No expectations on anyone else beyond that.
The truth is, we live in a broken world full of broken people. All have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). And no matter how “good” or “faithful” we are, there will be times of being taken for granted, or being exploited or neglected, etc. When we recognize this, we do not need to stay in toxic or unhealthy relationships. However, I realize we also do not need to take the unfortunate actions of other people personally and remain angry at them. God wants us to give freely and from a generous heart, without setting up expectations upon others. Expectations often lead to disappointment and then hurt. In reality it helps to remember that people are not necessarily against us as much as they are simply just for themselves. I’m thinking this is why when we give, we should give solely for the glory of God.
Today’s reading has brought a lot of healing.