We’re attempting to answer the question What exactly are Christians supposed to do? by looking at 50 commands straight from the mouth of Jesus.
Today’s command deals with a waaaaay-too-often-neglected subject: FASTING.
Here’s what Jesus said:
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Jesus starts by unveiling the hypocritical “Hey look at me!” actions of some religious-y folks. Fasting isn’t a superficial external ritual that earns us heaven points. It’s muuuuuch deeper than that. As always, Jesus is after our ♥s.
The fact that Jesus says “When you fast …” seems to indicate that fasting should be a normal part of our lives. Jesus also makes it clear that it should be done in secret, not for show.
So, what exactly is “fasting”? Essentially, it’s abstaining from anything in this world that interferes with our relationship with God. Fasting in the Bible typically accompanied times of intense prayer, worship, repentance and/or grief (see Acts 13:2-3, 14:23).
Should YOU fast? That’s a great question that I can’t answer. Thankfully, we all have our own fasting counselor available to us 24/7/365: the Holy Spirit. I suggest you stop reading this right now and ask Him to bring to mind anything in this world from which you should fast.
And then do it. Joyfully. Please.
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