And When You Fast ~ Pastor Shane

“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. 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.” Matthew 6:16-18

I don’t want to mislead you. I’m not a fasting expert. I have wrestled with this discipline for years. The why, when, and how haven’t always been clear to me. Some of that is because I’ve listened to too many opinions on the subject instead of digging into the Word to see what it says. So, today I’m not offering you my opinion; I’m going to point you to the Word.

Matthew 6:16-18 gives us some insights into how we fast. One question that seems to pop up about fasting is, “Should I tell anyone that I’m fasting?”  It seems that since Jesus tells us that we should fast in secret, the answer to that question would be, “No.”  However, it isn’t always that simple. If you’re fasting, what do you say when someone at lunch asks you why you’re not eating?  What about when your auntie drills you about why you’re not eating her homemade pecan pie? Do you deflect? Do you change the subject?

Do you lie?

No. You don’t lie or deflect or avoid the questions. Jesus wasn’t dealing with the curiosity of our friends and family. He was dealing with the hypocrisy of religious people.  Religious people took delight in letting people know they were fasting. They loved it so much that they would even draw attention to their suffering by putting on a sad face and neglecting their hygiene.

This guy looks sad, he’s disheveled, and he stinks. He must be fasting. How spiritual.

No. He’s being an idiot. He’s getting his reward now – the kudos of other religious people – instead of a reward from the Father later. Jesus instructs us to not be like these hypocrites by telling us the kind of fast that the Father honors. A fast that the Father will honor is done with a cheerful countenance and a heart that doesn’t seek the approval of men.  A secret fast isn’t a fast that you can never speak of, but instead it’s a fast that no one would otherwise know you were doing if you never said a word.

So, if you’re fasting and someone asks why you’re not eating, what do you do? A simple, truthful answer will suffice.  An answer that makes much of Jesus, and less of you, is all you need. My usual answer to that question is something like this:

Me: I’m fasting.

Them: Oh ok… Why?
 
Me: Because, Jesus fasted. I guess since he felt like it was necessary, I should do it too.

You decide what your answer will be, but don’t feel condemned or that you’ve wrecked your fast just because you told someone. It’s the attitude of the heart, and the fast done in humility that the Father rewards.

My prayer is that your fast makes the voice of God in your life super clear and that you follow him without fear.

1 Comment


Suzi - January 8th, 2020 at 12:17pm

Wonderfully put...to God be the Glory!