10 Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.”
11 “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?
13 Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting—they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings.
14 I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!
15 When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.
16 Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways.
17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
19 If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat.
20 But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Have you ever done something because it was the thing to do? There was no thought put into it, other than how it made you look? I’m guilty, I have done things just because they made me look good to someone else. I have said I was doing something for God, and the fact of the matter is that I only did it because it either made me look good or was the “thing to do”.
All of the things that we say we do for God have no meaning, if there is not heart behind them. In the verses above, it looks to me like God is calling out the Israelites for going through the motions. That what they are doing is only for themselves, their hearts are not in it and that He does not want anything to do with what they are bringing before Him.
Starting in verse 16, I see a way out. God calls us to give up our evil ways, to stop sinning. Then He gives us a charge on how to help others in verse 17. Do good, seek justice, help the oppressed, defend orphans and fight for widows; to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8). All of these speak to the condition of our heart. Do we care for others? Do we care enough to want to step out of our comfort zone and help someone who needs help?
Our heart condition speaks to how we view two words, nice and kind. They are not the same and I think it’s important to understand the difference. Nice costs you nothing, everyone can be nice. Kind, on the other hand, will cost you something. Kind means that thing you do is going to be a challenge, because it comes from your heart. Nice means that you will speak to that widow who is struggling and tell her how bad you feel for her. Kind means that you are willing to do something about her condition. That’s what I strive to be, to be kind. To be honest, I’m not always successful, it’s so much easier to be nice. But, Jesus was way more than nice when He hung on that cross for me. That was a kindness beyond all kindnesses. It had a cost!
Be kind today,