I will pay my vows to the LORD Now in the presence of all His people. (Psa 116:14)
Text: Isaiah 58:5-8
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.”
There are many now who worship no other God than their “belly” and politics, but there are also those who worship God with prayer and singing and reading and hearing, who gather with believers, who stay away from idle entertainment, live quiet and chaste and conduct themselves like the faithful. Their whole Christianity consists in this, – though they sometimes feel uplifted by compelling sermons and sometimes really are moved by God’s Spirit. The piety that consists only of such external things is at best a sorry state, but the worst of it is that these people by these externals rob themselves of eternal salvation.
True Christianity is heartfelt communion with the God of love, so that we love one another in the Lord and live our whole life in love, — not that we already are pure love, but so that love governs all our dealings, motivates and permeates all our deeds, and more and more purges out the old leaven. Go forth then, you Christians, who have tasted the heavenly gifts, and continually live from them. Go and become rich in deeds of love. Free the captive, take the yoke from the oppressed and burdens from the heavy-laden, help the weary by the Gospel and the grace of the Spirit. Do not pass by any in misery of soul, but also help your neighbor in his physical need: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and prepare a home for the abandoned. They are all your brothers, of the same flesh and blood as you. O believers, why are you so slow and sluggish in practicing love? Is it not the true worship of God to help orphans and widows (Jam 1:27)? Do it quickly and rightly. God shall give both the will and the strength to do it. You stand at the fountain. Draw water for friend and stranger, and spread life and thanks and praise all around you. Then your life shall shine like the morning dawn, and your healing shall spring forth, and your righteousness shall go forth before your face, the glory of the Lord shall continue after you. Your life of grace shall grow, you shall grow into an ever clearer knowledge of God, and become stronger in all purity and truth and goodness. And the Lord’s blessing shall rest on all that you do.
O God, kindle love within us by Your Holy Spirit. May this holy light burn brightly in our soul, so that we can become rich in fruits of love, and thereby many thanks unceasingly rise to You both from those who give and those who receive! O yes, Lord God, kindle love within us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
As bells with joy resound
And clanging cymbals sound;
Their ringing marks the seasons!
While they are without reason;
So empty is my speaking
If love is ever lacking.
If you had reason more
Than deepest ocean’s store,
A faith that could move mountains
And flowed from deepest fountains;
Still nothing is amounted,
If love is not accounted.
O Jesus, let me know
How Your sweet love to show
That whatever I’m doing
From love may e’er be flowing
That now my life’s whole story
May be to Your love’s glory.
Brorson: Den ypperligste Vei L 463:3.4.12 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Auf meinen lieben Gott (ELH 467); alternate hymn: Take my life and let it be ELH 444