Isaiah describes a group of people who are coming to God looking for answers but all they are getting is silence and the echo of their own heartbeat. They persist in asking for God’s justice for themselves to provided and even fast to make sure God will respond to their prayers. They use right words and conduct themselves in the appropriate way when at temple, but they have been living two different lives – one for worship and another everywhere else.

Today we would call the people that Isaiah was writing about hypocrites. We clean up for church, put on the right clothes, smiles, and tightly hold onto our kids’ hands. We try to hold everything together while in the presence of others who are also trying to hold it all together. Living two lives is hard work. You must try to control everything, your reactions, your appearances, your words, the impression others have of you, and even your families behavior, and all this while nothing really is under control. We struggle to make it through the service, back into our cars, and then our true selves rush back to the surface.

So, if you’ve found yourself in this downward spiral of a duplicitous life; How do you escape? Is there a prayer to offer? An activity to perform? A moment of devotion that can break the cycle? God’s Word says YES, but the action doesn’t start at the worship service or in the prayer closet. Isaiah 58:6-14 describes the first actions you need to take, and surprisingly they start at your workplace and in your home and with your neighbors. For God to hear and help us, we need to eliminate any injustice we are involved in and free those around us. We need to feed the hungry, provide for the poor, and remove any burden we’ve put on the backs of the poor or oppressed. And when we do, then when we call on the Lord, He will answer, guide us, strengthen us, raise us up, and restore us, and we will find Joy in the Lord.

God forgives us and accepts us the moment we receive Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. But to grow and to serve Him means we cannot mistreat others. No hypocrisy. We are at work, school, and in our neighborhood what we are commanded to be. Then our lives will match our profession at church.

by Robert Riggs, Elder

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