Because it’s Lent, the topic of fasting has come up again.
We look skeptically at those who are giving up meat, we laugh at those who are trying to give up cursing, and we feel uncomfortable around those who are giving up something we love, like sugar or internet.
Why give something up? Is that really necessary? Is it even good or will it just turn you into a skinny, judgmental hypocrite?
Scripture seems to assume that Christians will fast, but how, why, and what for?
Below are my notes after our Bible study discussion on this topic.
First, and most importantly
We are already loved, forgiven, restored in Christ.
We already have Jesus' A+ in all good works, including fasting.
We thank God that He has provided ALL that we need for salvation- our account is 100% paid for.
We are free, living in grace by grace.
We do not fast to earn anything from God.
Don't fast for these reasons
- to earn points with God
- to impress your friends
- to obey someone else's rules or expectations
- to prove to yourself and others that you are a good Christian
- to twist God's arm
- to find out how awesome you really are if you just put your mind to it
Though we are fully forgiven and restored, we are aware that our old man draws us downward like gravity, and that our vision is so easily clouded by the cares of this life. Fasting can help us refocus and fix our eyes on Jesus.
If a Christian fasts, he may choose to do so for one or more of the following reasons
- to train the body (exercise the "no" muscle")
- to simplify life and focus on God and His Word
- to remind oneself that Jesus is what truly satisfies, not one thing in the world, but Christ
- to interrupt "normal" and refocus on what is True and Eternal
- to remind oneself that sin is serious
- to remind oneself that he is mortal, dependent, and utterly reliant on God.
- to free up money for giving and time for praying or reading God's Word
“Instead of a fast, we should call it a slow.” Said Greg Kokul of Stand to Reason.
Yes, a slow. Lent is a time to slow down and refocus on the most important things.
This is incredibly difficult for me, but worth doing, I think.
Scripture on fasting
Matthew 6: 16-17
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
1 Corinthians 9: 24-27
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
I also liked this article:
Have you ever done a fast, or a “slow?”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!