March 30, 2021
When You Fast
"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)
I do not hear much about fasting. Perhaps this is simply because, as Jesus instructed us, people are just not making it obvious! Perhaps everyone is incorporating fasting into their lives. Alas, when I consider my own experience as a Christian, and conversations I’ve had with many brothers and sisters in Christ, I know this is not the case.
It is understandable that with all the pressures we are under, with deadlines to meet and commitments to fulfil, we tend away from anything that adds struggle to our daily lives. However, I believe when we examine these verses, we can only conclude that avoiding the practice of fasting is ultimately to our own detriment. Let us take a closer look.
“When you fast”
Not if, but when. The words used here demonstrate an expectation from Jesus that we will fast. Jesus only expects from us that which is beneficial to us.
“do not look somber”
The fast will involve an element of struggle. Oftentimes in life, struggle leads to growth. We can be confident that honing our discipline through fasting enables us to grow in likeness to Christ.
“only to your father”
Fasting is a deeply spiritual experience that you share with your Father God. We are reminded here that God the Father has a special personal interest in each one of us, that your fasting is for him, and not only that but…
“your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
We are further incentivised to fast via the explicit promise of reward! Clearly, when we practice fasting (in the correct manner), it is pleasing to God.
These are the words of Jesus Christ.
Not only is fasting mentioned frequently throughout the God-breathed Scriptures, but Jesus Christ himself, God manifest in human form, spoke these words we read in Matthew, encouraging his followers to fast. It doesn’t get any bigger than that. This must be seriously important.
If we love God, we want to please him. If we trust Jesus, we know he guides us only according to our best interests. Sisters and brothers, let’s take these words seriously, and do what is expected of us!
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your perfect example, for the way you lived your life totally according to the will of the Father. Thank you for this guidance you have provided in the Gospel of Matthew. Please give me the wisdom and discipline to follow your example and act on this guidance. Please help me to grow in my love and trust in you. Amen.