Can you believe this?!…I mean as soon as we scarf down the Reese’s Christmas tree cups, here come the classic Reese’s Easter eggs…yummy. Thankful that we celebrate the resurrection every day. THE DAY, the world also recognizes (although not all believe) THE GIFT was fulfilled is fast approaching!
So March 5th marks 40 days until we celebrate Easter (by the count of the calendar it’s actually a few more days), but that is a whole other blog or explanation. This is the time of year when we will start to hear folks talk about Lent or we will hear folks discuss “things” that they will fast from. The “things” in our culture range from food, to social media, TV, to [fill in your blank]…
But why? Or what is our motive for doing so if we do…. what does this mean and why for us today?
Jesus actually draws attention to a group of folks that may have had the incorrect motive in fasting.
[Mat 6:16 NLT] 16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth that is the only reward they will ever get.”
In this scene we have to go back to Matthew chapter 5 to see that Jesus is chatting with the disciples on a mountainside. Jesus is coaching the boys up, he is teaching HIS way that will fulfill the old way and bring in freedom through HIS way. As Jesus is teaching we see several instances where He refers to a group of people as hypocrites (those that say one thing but do another or live lives with masks), by stating don’t do as “they” but when you give, practice your righteousness, pray do so in a manner that is not chest thumping or drawing glory to ourselves…What is interesting is that Jesus does say WHEN you fast, he doesn’t say not to, and we actually see instances in scripture after the resurrection where fasting and prayer is sought when BIG decisions were looming. Jesus wants the boys, you and I to make sure that our motive in fasting is one that is centered on HIM and not to impress others around us
Here is an example…take a peek:
Isaiah 58:3 NLT
“‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers….
You have to read the rest of it…go get your book and read verses 4 and 5…really, go! I’ll wait…(jeopardy music playing in the background)…now look at the next verses. OH MY GRACIOUS, so cool!
Isa 58:6-11 NLT 6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. 7 Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. 8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. 9 Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! 10 Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. 11 The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
Good gurdy…. how have I missed this all of these years?
Ok let’s regroup here for a moment. The motive for some folks when fasting/praying can be off we admit, including mine, which brings me to why will I abstain (fast) to begin with? Answer for me; is to replace “something” that is centering in my mind and to transform this “something” to HIM. To bring “something” into a more balanced place in my life. It’s not for acceptance. We have that through our faith in Jesus. It’s not to try and manipulate God in “doing” something for me.
What about you? The first question to answer is “God do you desire for me to bring “something” in my life to a more balanced place that will bring you honor? If “YES”, then proceed with what HE is wooing through you. If you answered “no,” then accept that answer and let’s not “feel” any less when we happen to be around some that are fasting/praying…oh wait a minute we really wouldn’t know that will we? HAHAHA…remember what Jesus told us in earlier. Don’t make it obvious.
Then maybe just maybe the time, and resources being spent on the “somethings” will be shifted towards helping beLIeVE out the following words:
Luke 4:18 NLT 18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,
Those are words that Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah (chap 61) on a day, where He would be surrounded by some of the aforementioned hypocrites. The same words that God through the prophet Isaiah spoke to a chosen people over 700 years before Jesus read and fulfilled the promise conquering death and handing us through faith the keys to a new life!
Thank God for the empty tomb of CHRIST! What’s your motive?