“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 38:6-7, NIV)
We often think of fasting as something from which we refrain or abstain — and that is a true definition. However, according to our reading from Isaiah, God’s chosen fast can be as much a time of engagement as it is a time of denial or retreat.
During this Lenten season, disciples will often give-up something. This is a good thing, if only as a reminder that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
At the same time, we also need to remember that God is as interested in what we have chosen to take-up as He is in what we’ve chosen to give-up. There is as much for us in the “taking up our cross” as in the “denying one’s self.” (Please see Matthew 16:24.)
Let us strive to maintain this balance in our discipleship! – Luther