This is the kind of fasting I want: . . . Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.
Isaiah 58:6 nlt
A family member needed help with his December rent. To his family, the request felt like a burden—especially with their own unexpected expenses at year’s end. But they dug into their savings, grateful for God’s provision—and blessed by their relative’s gratitude.
He handed them a thank-you card filled with grateful words. “There you go again . . . doing nice things, probably passing it off as no big deal.”
Helping others is a big deal, however, to God. The prophet Isaiah made that point to the nation of Israel. The people were fasting but still quarreling and fighting. Instead, said Isaiah: “Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. . . . Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help” (Isaiah 58:6–7 nlt).
Such a sacrifice, said Isaiah, shares God’s light but also heals our own brokenness (v. 8). As the family helped their relative, they looked hard at their own finances, seeing ways they could manage better all year. This was God’s promise for being generous: “Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind” (v. 8 nlt). In the end, giving to their kin blessed them more. And God? He already gave His all—with love.