“Your desires do not control you, and you are not the sum of your desires.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 19, 2022
It is to be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you shall humble yourselves; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening, you shall keep your Sabbath. Leviticus 23:32, NASB
Throughout the world, many Christians today find themselves in the midst of an extended season of fasting, commonly known as Lent. And even if this practice is not a part of your own faith tradition or personal rhythm of life, fasting in one way or another is meant to be a core spiritual practice that is integrated into the lives of all Christians. As such, let us today take a moment to reflect upon the nature and purpose of fasting.
As Leviticus reminds us, fasting is a way to cultivate the virtue of humility in your life. It is neither born out of legalistic rule following nor self-congratulatory acts, but is instead a means of growing daily in our dependence upon God and trust in his merciful care and provision. We fast from the daily needs and concerns of life in order to feast upon the heavenly gifts of God.
Similarly, fasting reminds us that we are not slaves to our desires. This is perhaps the greatest truth that must be recovered in our modern day. We live in a world that tells us our desires are good simply due to the fact that they exist. If I want that food, or that possession, or that relationship, it must be pursued, for to deny myself is to be untrue to who I am. We fear it becomes a form of self-harm or repression. And yet, when we fast we sit in the driver’s seat of our emotional lives and tell our desires to get in line with where we’re headed!
Hear it again: your desires do not control you, and you are not the sum of your desires.
When a distorted and broken desire is identified in your life, it is not repressive for you to starve that desire out. Killing off these desires is not self-harm. It’s called discipleship and is the fruit of the Spirit at work in your heart and life. And so, difficult as it may be, choose today to live a life of continual repentance and ongoing transformation, and embrace the gift of fasting, choosing by God’s grace to actively and intentionally direct your life away from indulgence and towards the way that leads to life.
Father, help us cultivate a life of dependence upon you, turning our desires away from evil and towards the goodness and life of your kingdom, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
When was the last time you fasted? Traditionally, Christians have refrained from eating celebratory foods, such as meat or cheese, on Wednesdays and Fridays, instead choosing to focus fully on the sacrifice of Christ and his great love for the world. Consider taking on this practice in the next week, simplifying and limiting your diet so you can expand your heart of love towards Christ and others.
Joel 2:12; Psalm 69:10; Matthew 6:16-18
St Andrew’s Cathedral Sydney Chamber Choir: Come Down, O Love Divine
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