Learn to do what is right. Promote justice. Give the oppressed reason to celebrate. Take up the cause of the orphan. Defend the rights of the widow.
When I read Isaiah 1:17 my first response is, “Yes! I want to do those things!” Then I often go about my day, and the days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into months, and I have done nothing to live out what that verse is calling me to do.
I read that verse and I think to myself that it all sounds really good (and it does)… But what the verse is calling me to is action. Look at the words it uses: learn, seek, defend, take up, and plead for. None of those words are passive words. They all require action. They all are asking me to do something.
Taking action is what we see Nehemiah do. We don’t see him sitting idly by when he saw the injustice done against his people, but doing something.
He considered carefully what he should do.
He stopped and thought about what a good course of action would be. Then he brought charges against the nobles and the officials; he took action.
After he took action, he saw change.
I often find myself, when I see injustice in the world, feeling sad about it and maybe even thinking about it for a while. I often spend time praying for those involved. But then I do nothing to take action against the injustice.
Sometimes in my mind I come up with something that will eradicate the injustice, and then I get overwhelmed that there’s not really anything I can do to cause a big change, so I do nothing.
Recently there was an injustice done and I could see myself falling back into this pattern: be sad, think about it, pray, get overwhelmed that there’s nothing I could really do, and move on with my life.
I recognized the pattern and decided to take action this time. I made a phone call to someone who does have the power to do something, to cause a real change. It wasn’t a big gesture but it was something.
It wasn’t sitting passively when these verses called me to action.
Seeking justice is just one part of this verse.
I have to ask myself, “Am I learning to do good? What does that mean? How does that need to play itself out in my life?” And I have to ask myself those same questions about defending the oppressed, taking up the cause of the fatherless, and pleading the case of the widow.
I have to ask God to show me what those mean and how He wants me personally to actively live out these things.
There is no shortage of opportunities to live out each part of this verse.
So, what about you?
What’s one thing you can do this week to actively live out Isaiah 1:17?
What’s one way you can be like Nehemiah and “consider carefully what you should do” and then do it?
I pray as we ask these questions of ourselves and ask God to show us what to do that we would be faithful to live it out in practical, everyday ways.
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