A German proverb says, “What is the use of running when we are not on the right road?” No matter how much effort we expend in travel, our efforts are wasted if we’re not heading in the right direction.


This proverb illustrates a profound Biblical truth—working strenuously to be righteous and religious is wasted effort if we’re not moving in the right direction. In Isaiah 58, for example, God notes that the people are praying and fasting, but they are headed in the wrong direction. Their religious fervor is not about God, even though it looks like it is. Their religion is all about themselves, because they are merely “eager for God to come near them” (v. 2).

If they were really interested in getting to know God, their focus would be on the people God called them to love: the poor and the needy.


Instead, we find them indicted for exploiting workers, quarreling and violence (vv. 3–4). They are not, in short, loving their neighbors. How can they love God whom they have not seen when they are failing to love the neighbor right in front of them (see 1Jn 4:20)? It’s clear that they are running in the wrong spiritual direction. Running away from God, even though their piety makes it look like they are running toward God. As the proverb says, that’s just wasted effort.


How do you think this looks for us today? In what ways is it easy to appear that we are running toward God while running the wrong way? Share with us in the comments!

This blog is adapted from the NIV Understand the Faith Study Bible. You can learn more about it, see how it works in the app, and purchase it on our website.


  1. Sheela Arun Reply

    Thanks for the nice thought, really these word spoke to me.
    But I fail many times in failing to love others when i know the people are wrong. I am praying about it and failing very often. Even am not worthy to be loved, But when people ill treat me am very much offended, i know am wrong . How to change my attitude?
    I believe my love towards God is not that strong that is why am travelling in wrong direction…

    • Olga Olivier Reply

      A righteous man falls many times but the wicked only once – keep getting up you’re righteous ????

      • Misquote of Proverbs 24:16
        for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

        Neither Stumbling or Getting up make us righteous.

        Only Jesus is righteous and therefore:
        God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:21

    • I’m not perfect my friend but I will say this, there is a huge difference between struggling to forgive and refusing to forgive, it sounds to me like your are struggling to forgive, and I can tell you from experience that the answer is to continue to forgive those that trespass against you and I promise the day will come when you look at the offensive person and say”Whoa! I really love this person now!” It took me a full 3 years of constantly forgiving that person and for others it may take a lifetime to do it, but if you are forgiving those who hurt you I promise you God is well pleased with that. On the other side of this statement are those who refuse to forgive the trespassing, in other words they say in their hearts that they will never forgive the trespassing, those are the people that are hanging over hell fire by a thread. So be encouraged my friend and keep forgiving every time it comes up and you’ll be fine.

      • Hanging over hell fire by a then thread, I think not, our salvation, righteousness is based on the work of Christ not my perfection.

        • My friend I give you a stern warning in love, if you refuse to forgive others their trespasses against you, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you of your trespassing. Please hear what I am saying.

          • Elouise

            Well said Scott,that’s the Word of God

        • Longbow, you are correct. Our salvation is entirely dependent or Jesus perfect and complete work. Because of that work, you may find yourself surprised that you have forgiven someone who sinned against you. This transformation in you is a product of God working in you, to satisfy his commandments. You may already be aware of this.

          “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” — Philippians 2:12

          By the way, that reference to ‘fear and trembling’ can be well understood as awe and eagerness.

    • None is worthy to be loved but God loved us when we were unlovable, remit the wrong to the person that has wronged you, and live free from them, don’t make their problem your problem.

    • Sheela, I have the same problem too. Father God is so patient with us. He knows we don’t like to fail. He is helping us even though we can’t see or feel it. One thing I am learning is He gives me grace through my failures. When I encounter someone who tries my patience, slowly I am learning to give them the same grace He gives me. And slowly I am learning how to not be a “right” fighter. Be encouraged. He is helping you to learn.

    • I do believe that in my little humble way, sometimes I worked for Jesus and other times I became dishearted because the people whom I’m trying to help are rude and ungrateful and at time I felt like giving up. Each time the Holy Spirit convicted me to go on don’t give up, I would pray and aske my loving God for forgiveness and start again. I don’t believe I hate anyone, I hate their attitudes: is it sin to hate peoples attitude? Sometime I’m not sure if I have hate in my heart that’s why I kept praying and asking God to search my heart to see if there’s any unforgiveness in me to cleanse me and set me free. It is easy to believe from our heads and not from our hearts.


      • See Romans 12:9
        Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

  2. Edwin Bani Reply

    Thanks for me see the nugget in the Isaiah 58, it so confirms the German proverb??????

  3. Very apt and insightful. We need to apply this truth to our lives.
    I will even add Proverbs 14:12, ” There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is way of death .”


  4. Jesus came for the lost. If we are called to be His disciples we will do as Jesus did and not love this world, because our home is not here. We will live in humility, love, and selflessness.

  5. David C. Chase Reply

    If we are always sharing clean but living dirty. Caught up in service commitments but not giving the newcomer a ride to the meeting. Spending all our time in meetings helping people and neglecting our loved ones at home.

  6. That’s why Christianity is a relationship and not a religion.

  7. Phillip Clark Reply

    Yes I agree. I ignore those who need my love the most by not spending more time with them. That is not being a christian.

  8. F.D.Bovell Reply

    At times we struggle to give up the wrongs done to us but it continues to burden us and prevents us from progressing further ,true religion is love as Christ loved and in loving we humble ourselves to share in providing help for the needy .
    Love one another is our soul duty .

  9. The kingdom of God is within.Focus is key. The attributes of the kingdom are given in His Word. That said one aught always to be on target if it His kingdom and His presence that one seekside. The advice is well taken judge not……… .

  10. I’ve stopped going to church for some time, and I just woke up this morning and was pondering on not going to services all for the sake of my financial obligations. ..
    Made pledges, couldn’t redeem them…
    I have even made up my mind to be home today,
    That was when I stumbled on the mail
    that led me here..
    I really feel I’m running the wrong lane…
    What do I do please.

Write A Comment

Pin It