“You cannot run in two directions at the same time.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 16, 2023
Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come to them. Isaiah 1:23, ESV
Though remote work has reshaped much of the modern workday, if you were to walk the streets of New York or Chicago you would still find countless people moving at breakneck speeds, eagerly seeking to get ahead and make a name for themselves. Rest is for the weak and weary, and so they down another cup of coffee and press on in search of the prize. Lose focus for even a minute, we’re told, and someone will take your spot and leave you in the dust!
While many if not most of us may not work a high-pressure job in the heart of a big city, the expectation and pressure to give yourself fully to the pursuit of material gain can be found anywhere and everywhere, for it is a basic human impulse. Even in Isaiah’s day, we find this truth at work! “Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts” (Isaiah 1:23).
At one level, giving yourself to a successful career is good and right. We should work faithfully and as our work bears fruit offer it back to the Lord in thanksgiving. Yet today, Isaiah reminds us of an essential truth of life that transcends time and place: you cannot run in two directions at the same time.
If you “run after gifts” with all your might, you will never have the strength or capacity to run after virtue and an unwavering love of neighbor. The things we pursue reveal the desires of our hearts. If we most deeply long to be respected, wealthy, and powerful, we will chart our course to this destination and seek it with all our might. Yet, if we have hearts that have been transformed by the mercy and compassion of God, we will be unable to turn a blind eye to the sorrow and suffering of our neighbor and will prayerfully seek ways to bring God’s justice to a weak and weary world.
Those who are in need are looking for people of peace, places of safety to whom they can turn in times of distress. If your life is consumed by love of money or finding meaning in work alone, the “widow’s cause” will never come to you. Yet, if you open your life with compassion toward others, those who are in need of your care will sense it and see in you the love of Christ that they long to know and encounter.
Father, keep us from blindly running after our own cares and concerns, instead turning our hearts and lives toward you and those you love, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reflect on these words from Isaiah today, and consider the passions and pursuits that most strongly animate your actions and direct your life.
Psalm 119:73; Proverbs 1:5-7; Philippians 4:9
Matt Redman: Mercy
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