Emotions and expressions play a huge role in many lives around the world. These affect how we interact with people every day. Even when you were a young adolescent, you desired to “show and tell” your new outfit or material possession. Pride is unfortunately in our nature because of sin. The hypocrites mentioned in Matthew 6 took pride in displaying their fasting to others. They wanted the attention to show others how difficult and miserable they were.
“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).
God sees it all. God will see that when you fast in private and not boast about it to others (2 Corinthians10:17), He will reward you.
There are many healthy diets and fads that have been circulating in the past 10 years or so. I remember two years ago, I fasted for a specific reason that aided me to heal and bring clarity to my health. I did feel that it was from God who led me to fast these certain foods, but the whole intention was not to humble myself before God. In the Bible, God calls us to fast many times.
In Daniel 10:2-3, the Bible states, “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three full weeks. I didn’t eat any rich food, no meat or wine entered my mouth, and I didn’t put any oil on my body until the three weeks were over.”
Churches everywhere dedicate a certain time of year to participate in this fast. Some of you may have already done this fast before and have reaped the rewards. Unfortunately, we can fall victim to idols, which does include food.
In 1 Corinthians 8, the Bible speaks about being sensitive to conscience or knowledge. I am going to post the whole chapter for your benefit and let God speak to you:
About food offered to idols: We know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.
About eating food offered to idols, then, we know that “an idol is nothing in the world,” and that “there is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth — as there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from Him, and we exist for Him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through Him, and we exist through Him.
However, not everyone has this knowledge. In fact, some have been so used to idolatry up until now that when they eat food offered to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not make us acceptable to God. We are not inferior if we don’t eat, and we are not better if we do eat. But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak.
For if someone sees you, the one who has this knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? Then the weak person, the brother for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge. Now when you sin like this against the brothers and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won’t cause my brother to fall.”
God gives us knowledge and the world gives us knowledge. It is our job to use this knowledge with godly wisdom. So, what if what we eat is turned into an idol? Social media is full and ramped with health programs that influence us every day. We all fall victim to these things concerning food, diet, and exercise.
The world has ingrained in us that we have to always improve and perform better. Now, not all of these things are bad, but if we make it more of a priority than God Himself, then we are essentially creating an idol. Let God lead you in your health journey and be patient with yourself. God knows exactly what you need.
In Isaiah 58:5-8, the Bible states,
Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Do we fast to please ourselves? Do we worship to please ourselves? Do we pray to please ourselves? We ask and we ask but sometimes we never only seek to fast, worship, and pray for God. We want things in our life to happen quickly without seeking God about the affliction first.
I am no expert on fasting. To be honest, I have rarely fasted in my years of being saved. I let fear and perfection get in the way of what God has asked me to do. I advise you to trust God in fasting. Even if this is your first time and you don't know what to expect, Jesus is right there with you. He did it in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights (Matthew 4). You can do it too.
A Closing Prayer
Father, your Word is full of wisdom and knowledge. I pray that we, as children of God, trust you Lord and humble ourselves before you... seeking you God like never before. I pray for everyone fasting and beginning to fast.
I pray that they are led by you, Father, and not the world. I pray the distractions and temptations will not overcome them during this time. Thank you, Father, for loving us enough to send your Son to die for us. We will be forever grateful. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/monstArrr_
Rebecca Gordon has a bachelor’s in psychology and is engaged to a wonderful man named Joseph. Her favorite time of year is spring because of the many flowers it brings about. She loves to go to the beach, hike, and explore new places. She loves God with all of her heart and will serve Him all the days of her life. She has a blog site and is planning to earn her master’s in biblical counseling.