Great Reflection From The Word Among Us

How God Measures Us

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish. (Isaiah 58:6)

In the film Mary Poppins, there is a scene in which Mary uses a measuring tape on herself. But rather than feet or inches, the tape reads, “Practically perfect in every way.” It’s a cute little scene, but it tells us a lot about her personality.

In today’s first reading, we see God’s measuring tape for fasting. The passage names eight specific things that God wants Israel to do. If the people measure up, their glory will “break forth like the dawn,” and their relationship with God will deepen dramatically (Isaiah 58:8, 9). Israel never did manage to live up to these standards, however. But how did God respond?

Like many of the prophetic writings, this passage can be understood in a number of ways. It is both an exhortation for Israel to change and a guideline to help them encounter God on a deeper level. It can also be read in the context of history, as a revelation of God’s grace. God could have turned away when Israel did not meet his standards. Instead, he broke into their world and sent Jesus, who met all of these standards and then some. He broke the yoke of sin, brought freedom from oppression, fed the hungry, freed spiritual prisoners, and clothed people with his love and righteousness.

You might feel that God sets high standards, and you’re right! We are called to live up to every commandment, pursuing and growing in holiness day by day. But that’s only one side of the story. The other side is that we serve a God of tremendous mercy, patience, and forgiveness. Even when we fall short, he doesn’t give up. He reaches out his hand to us, no matter how far we have fallen, invading our world with his mercy, grace, and encouragement.

Is there an area where you have felt the Lord nudging you to grow, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened? Take heart! God knows your shortcomings, and he is already reaching out his hand to help you go to the next level.

Think of one thing that you can do by next Friday to take that step. Then, tell someone about your plan. Studies show that if we tell someone about our goals, we are much more likely to accomplish them.


“Lord, help me to seek after your standards in every area of my life.”

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