Saturday, October 27, 2007

Authentic Fasting

Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:16-18)
When the hypocrites were fasting, they really wanted to look like they were fasting. For them, that was the whole point. If they could have gotten away with looking like they were fasting without actually having to fast, for them that would have been ideal.

At the beginning of His sermon, Jesus spoke comfort to those who mourn, that is, those who are grieved by sin and injustice. Fasting is a natural counterpart to mourning. He also declared blessing on those who hunger and thirst for righteousness — they shall be filled. That is the kind of fast that God rewards:
Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, “Here I am.”
(Isaiah 58:6-9)
This is not a fast of sad countenances and facial contortions. It is not religious theater, a "Pious Playhouse" production. It is a fast that begins in the heart. When we fast to become more mindful of God’s priorities, so that we may better hear His voice, it honors God, and God honors it.

It is not hard to look like you are fasting, when you actually are. The real trick is to look like you are not, and that will help you keep your motives clear.

The kingdom of heaven on earth requires authentic fasting — the hunger and thirst for righteousness.



The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.