Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 12, 2020
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. Matthew 6:16
I’ve spent years of my life studying scripture, theology, and church history. And yet, one of the truest tests of whether or not I’ve begun to internalize our Christian faith is whether or not I can clearly or simply explain something to my children. For example, take fasting. How do you simply, clearly, and succinctly explain the significance of fasting to young grade-school aged children? For kids, and if we’re honest, for all of us, sometimes we need deep truths explained clearly in ways that speak to our heart and begin to positively shape the way we live before God and others.
In order to understand fasting, I think we need to reassess our approach to feasting. Culturally, we are encouraged to satisfy every desire and pursue every longing we ever have. If we enjoy it, more of it must be good, or so we think. And yet, as I told my children, would Christmas Day or your birthday be as special if it happened every single day of the year? Though it took them a minute to believe me, eventually they agreed there was something good, and even exciting about the anticipation and preparation that leads up to the celebration.
If we don’t learn how to fast, we’ll never learn how to truly feast.
Fasting is a way for us to say “no” to specific longings and desires so we can learn to feel hungry again. It reminds us that so often we fill ourselves up, physically and spiritually, with food that will never truly satisfy. It may mask our hunger for a moment, but it doesn’t meet our deepest longings and needs.
Do you have a regular habit of fasting? As a starting point, consider abstaining from specific foods on specific days of the week. For example, Christians throughout history have often fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays, abstaining from meat and wine, two foods in the bible that are clearly connected to feasting (see Luke 15:23; John 2:1-12). This is a simple step you can take to learn healthy moderation and a rhythm of feasting and fasting.
Additionally, consider a regular rhythm of self-assessment, making sure there isn’t anything in your life that has an excessive hold on your time, attention, and desires. Even good things can be enjoyed in excess, and as a result they can easily distract us from a life of prayer and service, dulling us to the daily work of the Spirit in our hearts and lives.
Fasting isn’t meant to shut you down. It is an invitation for you to come alive! May we have the courage to take it seriously and come alive to the life of God.
Father, help us to say “no” so that we can say “yes” to you, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Choose a day in the next week to fast from meat and wine, and consider using the extra time in prayer for your family, neighbors, and church family.
If we don’t learn how to fast, we’ll never learn how to truly feast. #WisdomHunters #fast #Jesus #truth
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