Dos & Don’ts Going Forward

5You humble yourselves

by going through the motions of penance,

bowing your heads

like reeds bending in the wind.

You dress in burlap

and cover yourselves with ashes.

Is this what you call fasting?

Do you really think this will please the LORD?

6“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;

lighten the burden of those who work for you.

Let the oppressed go free,

and remove the chains that bind people.

7Share 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.

The above is a passage of scripture from Isaiah 53. Isaiah, a prophet, is telling the people what God wants to say to them, and God is mad at their hypocrisy. They had a tradition of “acting pious”: going to temple every day and making this big ceremonial deal of their no-spend mon- er… I mean, their fasting, and God is like, IS THIS THE RELIGION I WANT?

Even while you fast,

you keep oppressing your workers.

You can look real shiny on the outside, and wear all those things that makes people know: Yea, they’re good! But then you’re a jerk. You’re a self-involved jackass that treats people like crap and is dressing in burlap because it makes you look good.

Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!

10Feed the hungry,

and help those in trouble.

Sharing your food with the hungry is mentioned twice. Repetition in the Bible is kind of like, underlining, bolding, italicizing, increasing the font size, highlighting in yellow, and putting it on a magnet and sticking it on your fridge.

So … there’s that.

So here are some dos & don’ts, modified from the email I got today from Ruth Soukrup’s blog, Living Well & Spending Less.

What to do: Do a regular inventory of your pantry and freezer, so that you can use what you have, and quit storing things like it’s the apocalypse. You’ll have an emptier fridge, and a pantry that doesn’t look like Hoarders, but the point isn’t tidiness.
Why do it: You’llspend less on your grocery bill, freeing that money up to donate to the food bank, or feed the hungry some other way.

What to do: Curate your clothes. I’ve been using the Konmari Method (does this bring me joy?). You’ll have fewer clothes: laundry will go faster and putting things away will be easier.
Why do it: You’ll have more time to spend on people rather than things. 

“only spend money on items you truly need that are quality made and will last. No more buying simply because it was on sale.” (emphasis mine)

What to do: Gifts for birthdays and Christmas: DIY. Last year my brother-in-law’s girlfriend made each of the siblings cookies – seriously, so simple, and yet perfect. We ended up doing a cookie exchange because we all got different kinds. It was so much fun and memorable. I want to do something hand-made this year, crafting brings me joy. Another great quote from Ruth:

Think of ways you can give of yourself, rather than resort to another gift card or store-bought item. Learn a new craft and use those skills to create gifts for the next holiday or birthday.

Why do it: 

There is a promise attached to all this. It is God himself. Do this, get Him.

May God’s will be done.

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,

and your wounds will quickly heal.

Your godliness will lead you forward,

and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.

9Then when you call, the LORD will answer.

‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.

Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!

10Feed the hungry,

and help those in trouble.

Then your light will shine out from the darkness,

and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.

11The LORD will guide you continually,

giving you water when you are dry

and restoring your strength.

You will be like a well-watered garden,

like an ever-flowing spring.

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