If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness. Isaiah 58:10
A small collection of people stood together, dwarfed by the size of the huge tree lying on the lawn. An elderly woman leaned on her cane and described watching the previous night’s windstorm as it blew down “our majestic old elm tree. Worst of all,” she continued, voice cracking with emotion, “it destroyed our lovely stone wall too. My husband built that wall when we were first married. He loved that wall. I loved that wall! Now it’s gone; just like him.”
Next morning, as she peeked out at the tree company workers cleaning up the downed tree; a big smile spread across her face. In between the branches she could just make out two adults and the boy who mowed her lawn carefully measuring and rebuilding her beloved stone wall!
The prophet Isaiah describes the kind of service God favors: acts that lift the hearts of those around us, like the wall repairers did for the elderly woman. This passage teaches that God values unselfish service to others over empty spiritual rituals. In fact, God exercises a two-way blessing on the selfless service of His children. First, God uses our willing acts of service to aid the oppressed and needy (Isaiah 58:7–10). Then God honors those engaged in such service by building or rebuilding our reputations as powerful positive forces in His kingdom (vv. 11–12). What service will you offer this day?
Thank You, Father, for the acts of others You use to lift us up, and for calling us to do the same.
Am I my brother’s keeper? We might wonder something similar when we hear Isaiah urging his people to reach out to a world of hurting people. But another story is working in the background. God’s people were trying to avoid responsibility for the wrongs they were doing to their own flesh and blood (Isaiah 58:7).
Can you think of anything you are doing, or not doing, to those around you that is making their life difficult? Can you think of ways to unselfishly serve them?