Day Nine – False Fasting
Fasting Date: Tuesday, February 13, 2018
“‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.” (Isaiah 58:3 ESV)
In Isaiah 58 (you really want to read this whole chapter!) God is confronting his people who desire his blessing and favor over their own lives, but who don’t want to be instruments of his blessing in the lives of those around them. They want God to see the external acts they perform – like fasting, tithing, and keeping the Sabbath – and be impressed enough to shower them with good gifts, all the while hoping that he will turn a blind eye to the way they live the rest of their lives. But God is not impressed with empty ritual, and God is not pleased with outward actions that fail to flow from hearts that love him and long to be like him.
As we fast, we want to be cautious that this same tendency doesn’t take root in our own lives. We don’t want fasting to turn into a religious rule we keep, in effect, saying to God, “Look at me. See what a good person I am? I am honoring you, and in return, you should honor me.” Because the tendency of the human heart is to be self-centered, it is oh so easy to make our fasting more about us than it is about God. We might not state it so blatantly, but if we are not careful and prayerful, we can treat our fast as if it were a magic lamp we rub in order to coerce genie Jesus into granting our every wish. But fasting was never intended to be a religious ritual performed to get God to give us more of his gifts; rather, it is a means of grace God has extended to us that he might give us more of himself.
Reflection: Take a moment to honestly search your heart. In your fasting, are you hungering for more of God or more of his gifts?