Thursday, January 21, 2016
In the His Sermon on the Mount, the start of Matthew 6 in particular, Christ mentioned three Christian duties in this order, giving, praying, and fasting. We must assume they are expected duties in the lives of His followers because in all three, He spoke of “when” we do them, not “if” we do them. A quick and simple analysis of Christ’s instructions to us on these duties shows that all three of them should be done without any fanfare. We must keep in mind that although doing the things which are required of us, is commendable, it does not qualify as being praiseworthy. On another occasion, when Jesus was teaching His disciples concerning their duties, he told them that masters don’t thank their servants when they are performing their expected duties. He added: “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” (Luke 17:10) Permit me to clarify: Jesus did not say that faithful servants were unworthy, he just told His disciples that they should consider themselves as such, that is, be humble.
Jesus wanted His followers to be the opposite of the scribes and Pharisees of their day. In their case, all the people knew when they gave, prayed, and fasted, because they did it in public and in full view of everybody. They even disfigured their faces so that all could see how pious they were, and although they received the praises of the simple and unlearned, Jesus made it clear that they would get no praise from God. Fasting involves self-denial and is geared to make it’s participants humble. The Pharisees and scribes were the opposite. They were proud, arrogant, boastful, and obviously hypocritical.
When we fast, may we keep these things in mind. Let’s remember that fasting is for our benefit. It should help us develop a closer and more intimate relationship with God. It should also be done with as little fanfare as possible. The more secret we can keep it, the better. If done in the right way and in the right spirit, we will notice a positive change in our lives and in our way of thinking.
Memory verse for the week: (Joel 2:12 KJV) “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.”