We’re sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to the greatest sermon ever preached: the Sermon on the Mount.
Today, Jesus dives into a waaaaay-too-neglected subject: FASTING. Here’s what he 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. (Matthew 6:16-18)
Jesus starts by unveiling the hypocritical “Hey look at me!” actions of the Pharisees. 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).
Many early Christians fasted from food every Wednesday and Friday from sunrise to sunset. The idea was to share in Jesus’ sufferings — Wednesday as a reminder of Jesus’ betrayal and Friday as a reminder of his crucifixion.
Right now, many Christians around the world are fasting in observance of Lent. They give up things like meat, chocolate, wine and maybe even the Internet for 40 days as a reminder of what Jesus gave up for all of us.
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.
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