Going Through the Motions

Scott Stevenson 

Isaiah 58 is a very straightforward, "let’s sit down and have a talk" kind of chapter.  It deals with going through the motions.  In verse one, the prophet is asked to cry out this message to the point that he doesn’t spare his voice.  I’m not sure how going through the motions happens, but I’m sure it is relegated to sin on some level. The chapter starts off by telling us that Israel has sinned against the Lord.  When I see that, I want to know what they did to offend the Lord, and I came to the following passage:

“Day after day, you worship him and seem eager to learn his teachings. You act like a nation that wants to do right by obeying his laws. You ask him about justice, and say you enjoy worshiping the LORD.” (Isaiah 58:2, CEV)

Wow!  Everything seems to be pretty good, but according to the Lord, all is not well.  You see, we tend to forget that the Lord sees the heart.  We can’t fool God as much as we tend to forget that important fact.  God gives us steps to repent from our offenses toward Him, but are we willing to make the changes?  Let’s look at some of the things the Lord tells us to do to avoid going through the motions:

“You wonder why the LORD pays no attention when you go without eating and act humble. But on those same days that you give up eating, you think only of yourselves and abuse your workers. You even get angry and ready to fight. No wonder God won’t listen to your prayers!” (Isaiah 58: 3–4, CEV)

This part of scripture just slapped me in the face.  A number of people constantly ask or feel that God doesn’t listen to them.  According to what I’m reading, we need to examine ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to reveal any sin in our lives.  The Israelites are giving up food.  I don’t know too many people who do this on a regular basis.  Fasting was to help people to respond to God’s word positively.  What usually happens?  A bad attitude sets in because you have to go hungry.  God is not interested in rituals, but true obedience.  If you can’t give up a piece of bacon, guess what else is going to happen when it comes to bigger issues?  In verse four it says, “You even get angry and ready to fight.  No wonder God won’t listen to your prayers!”  I think that pretty much says it all, but God goes even further into our wicked little hearts:

“I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD.  Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly.  Free those who are abused!  Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless.  Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives.”  (Isaiah 58:6–7, CEV)

That doesn’t mean inviting random parolees into your home or becoming an enabler of a person’s sin.  Giving reminds a person that what they own does not belong to them, but to God.  We need to remember; it’s not about you.  When you get to heaven, do you think God is going to ask you, how did you enjoy your self-indulgent life?  I know it sounds silly, but we tend to live silly more often than we would like.  Let me make it simple, we are here to share the most wonderful gift in the history of mankind, that Jesus hung on a tree in our place.  We do this in a way that people don’t see you, but they see God.  You want to unlock the power of God in your life; it’s all right here for the taking, but we don’t want to sacrifice for the Lord.  We don’t want to love the unlovable.  I know exactly how you feel because there are folks I don’t particularly care for, and I don’t want to be obedient in this area of my life.  Wow! When you write it out like that, it sounds crazy! Disobedience is disobedience, and if I’m not willing to put pride aside for the Lord, I forfeit following promises:

“Then your light will shine like the dawning sun, and you will quickly be healed. Your honesty will protect you as you advance, and the glory of the LORD will defend you from behind. When you beg the LORD for help, he will answer, “Here I am!” Don’t mistreat others or falsely accuse them or say something cruel.” (Isaiah 58:8–9, CEV)

“The LORD will always guide you and provide good things to eat when you are in the desert. He will make you healthy. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water or like a stream that never runs dry. You will rebuild those houses left in ruins for years; you will be known as a builder and repairer of city walls and streets.” (Isaiah 58:11–12, CEV)

All of these blessings come with even more expectations:

“But first, you must start respecting the Sabbath as a joyful day of worship. You must stop doing and saying whatever you please on this special day.” (Isaiah 58:13, CEV)

I don’t know about you, but I want to change my value system.  I want to pursue the things that will last in life. I want to start to do the hard things when it comes to my obedience to the Lord.  There is nothing better than the inner peace God provides when you are obedient to Him.  Read through this passage of scripture and own it.  Make it a point in your life to stop going through the motions when it comes to God.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Chad Filges wrote:
Hello my name is Chad Filges and I am guilty of going through the motions. I confess there are people in my life that I dont care for. I struggle with loving people. I do need to ask God to reveal sin in my life. Thanks for sharing this passage.

Mon, November 21, 2016 @ 3:36 PM

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