It's fasting season--namely the 21-day Daniel Fast season. How do I know? Because just about everyone is tweeting about it, Instagramming and Facebooking their spiritual "sacrifice." It's a most perplexing phenomenon to me. When I was growing up, the church I attended didn't encourage banner displays of fasting. And I'm pretty sure the Bible doesn't either.
Back in the day, those who were fasting were urged to make themselves look presentable instead of walking around looking unkempt, gloomy and hungry. "That your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret."
These days, instead of looking hungry, folks are choosing to share what they are eating, how hungry they are and how they're struggling giving up sugar and TV--that their fasting may be seen by others. Is this what God had in mind for fasting?
First and foremost: fasting is God-centered. It's not a badge of honor to show how holy or good we are. In fact, in Matthew 6, we are urged not to do "godly" things to be thought well of. That's dangerous territory. Whether we are giving, praying or fasting, it's all done for God and to God--not for an audience of people. "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for you will have no reward from your Father who is in Heaven."
Just as some aspects of a marriage are personal and not for public consumption, the same goes for our relationship with God. Some things are just to be kept private.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline. But it can can clearly become a badge of honor and an opportunity for us to draw attention to ourselves, which totally defeats the purpose.
God clearly gave the gift of fasting to us:
- For personal sanctity
- To be heard of high
- To change God's mind
- To free the captives
- To deliver
- For revelation
- To keep our flesh under control
- For health and healing
So many benefits! Be careful not to null out your blessings by making a display of fasting on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Instead, fast unto God who sees in secret and rewards openly.