What Pleases God?

February 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

As a devoted people who gather frequently to worship God, we may think we do the right things to please God.  Israel too thought God will favor them if they are faithful in their religious practices such as fasting (Isaiah 58:1-12).  It must have been a shock to hear the prophet’s rejection of these pious acts.  At least they were confused: “‘Why have we fasted’, they say, ‘and you have not seen it?  Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?'” (58:3).  What pleases God though is a different kind of devotion:  “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to lose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (58:6-7).  As the book of James emphasizes in the New Testament, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (2:17).  Therefore, James’ definition of religion is simple:  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” (1:27).  Where is God giving you such an opportunity today?

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