“‘Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.’” (Isaiah 1:17-18 NKJV)
In the passage leading up to this admonition from God, He pronounces to His people that He’s tired of their worship and sacrifices. They were probably doing all the things the Law told them to do regarding sacrifices, celebrations, and worship, but their efforts wearied God. Why? I believe that their actions in worship did not match how they were living. God told them to stop doing evil before telling them to learn to do good. So, while they were fulfilling the requirements of the Law in their worship, their lives showed nothing that indicated that they were walking with God. So God reminded them that their changed hearts should reveal themselves in actions: doing good, seeking justice, ending oppression, caring for the fatherless, and pleading for the widow. Then, God noted that He was willing to renegotiate the contract they had and to their benefit. God was seeking to forgive them, if they were willing to turn back to Him.
As I look at this verse from the perspective of the Christian life, I’m convicted that our life must match our profession. We’ve all been in those situations where someone is behaving terribly and thinking, “Oh, please Lord, don’t let him tell people he follows You.” Sometimes, I wonder if people think that about me. Too often we focus on the wrongs in other people and won’t examine our own lives. God gives us a few things to check ourselves on. In our unjust world do we seek justice, or do we find ways to benefit from the injustices done? Do we stand up for the oppressed or do we sit in silence, or worse, encourage the oppressor? Do we speak out for the widow, the orphan, the single mother, the child who’s wandering through life, or do we ignore them in their struggles? If we have a strong relationship with God, our lives will reflect that in those types of actions. On the other hand, if we realize that we don’t have a strong relationship with God, He offers us the chance to restore that relationship as we reason together with Him.
Oh Lord, it’s so easy not to get involved in the lives of people who need Your help, Your love, Your grace. Forgive me for ignoring the concerns of brothers and sisters and instill in me a desire to be Your hands, feet, and heart to other people.