When, Not If
Monday - September 20th
Scripture to Read Today: Matthew 6:16-18
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.
Jesus (Matthew 6:16)
Fasting is defined as abstaining from anything for a period of time. Usually, a fast involves food or drink, but could involve abstaining from sex, sports, certain forms of entertainment, social media, etc. For centuries, individuals of many faiths have fasted for spiritual reasons. Christians fast to focus on a need, keep our attention on that need, and seek our God's help to have that need met (according to His will). We may fast regarding the challenges and needs in our own lives or in the lives of others.
It is not a question of whether we as Christians will fast or not, but when and how we will fast. Jesus anticipates and even assumes that His followers will fast. He didn't say "if you fast," but "when you fast" (Matthew 6:16). Likewise, Jesus does not say that His followers might fast. But, He does say that "they will" fast (Matthew 9:15).
Fasting is for this world, for expanding our hearts beyond the grief and suffering that surrounds us. It's for the fight against our own sin and frailty. We express our dissatisfaction with our sinful selves and a desire to be more like Christ.
The practice of fasting will no longer be necessary after Jesus returns. It's a temporary measure to deepen our connection with Christ in this life and prepare our hearts for the next – seeing Him face to face. When He returns, He will include us in a grand feast rather than a fast. When we are with Jesus, fasting will have fulfilled its purpose. It will have helped us focus on our needs and God as the solution to our needs.
Jesus assumed His followers would fast. Perhaps fasting has been a regular part of your walk with Him. Thank Jesus for the times of fasting that have drawn you closer to Him. Maybe you have not cultivated the spiritual discipline of fasting yet in your life. As we continue the topic of fasting in this week’s Take5s and the message next weekend at Calvary, ask God to grow you regarding this area Jesus assumed would be a part of your Christian life.
Jesus said that fasting would be a part of a healthy, vibrant walk with Him.