Isaiah 58:5-12 NKJV
“Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord? Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And 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 the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall rise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.”
What does fasting and compassion have in common? Some dictionaries give “to go without food; eat little or nothing; go without certain kinds of food” as the definition of fast. Others say that fasting is quietly choosing not to eat for a period of time in order to give extra attention to God. We could say that fasting is quietly choosing to deny yourself something that you need (or that you think you need) for a specific purpose.
Compassion is feeling for another’s sorrow or hardship that leads to help. Compassion is not the same as sympathy. Sympathy is pity, feeling sorrow (sorry) for someone who is in distress. We can feel sorry for someone without doing anything (or trying) to help them, but it doesn’t please God.
Many times in order to be truly compassionate we will have to deny ourselves something (food or things). It pleases God when we deny ourselves things in order to help someone who is in need (distress). Go does not take pleasure in us denying ourselves or afflicting our souls (mind, will and emotions) in order for us to gain attention from others. However, God does take great pleasure in someone who denies them self something in order to help someone else.
Thank-you for the love and compassion that You have shown to me. By the power of the Holy Spirit, help me to look at others through Your eyes of love and compassion.
In Jesus’ name, Amen