Monday, 11 September 2017 – Humility
Leviticus 16 :29 And let this be an order to you forever: in the seventh month, on the tenth day, you are to keep yourselves from pleasure and do no sort of work, those who are Israelites by birth and those from other lands who are living among you.
Matthew 6 :17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face
These verses show us that fasting is mostly about our inner being, in view of denying or humbling ourselves. Thus we better understand the warning from Jesus about the risk of glorifying ourselves through an obvious fast : clearly, when you fast, says Jesus, don’t let everyone know that you are fasting ! (Matt. 6 :17)
Today, as we follow Jesus, we understand that fasting consists not only of refraining for a time from food and drink, of course, but also from some things that are not necessarily bad. In fact, fasting according to Jesus is much more :
Therefore, fasting is also « a fast for the eye », to take care of our soul, as we avoid anything that can pollute it through what we look at : advertisement, TV movies, internet, video games … Just like Job, we « make a covenant with our eyes to not look lustfully at a girl » (Job 31 :1 – cf Matt 5 :27-28). Let’s remember that « the eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light » (Matt. 6:22). Let’s cultivate a good and honest way of looking at things.
Fasting is also a « fast for the ears » : we close our ears to slander, ill-speaking, deceit and gossip, in order to open them to the Word of truth, through which the Father sanctifies us (John 17 :17), but also the cries of the suffering or the heavy-burdened (Is 58).
Fasting is also a fast of the lips or words: it’s about refraining from murmuring, slandering, cursing, speaking ill … which pollutes us and others. Rather, let’s learn to bless, speak of good things from God in others, and choose words which will contribute to the building up of everyone.
But it is also about talking less to listen better: « Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words » (Eccl 5 : 2-3).
Fasting is also a fast for the thoughts : « For from within, out of men’s hearts come evil thoughts … all these evils come from inside and make a man unclean » (Mark 7 :21-23). On the other hand, « whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things » (Phil. 4 :8).
As we see, fasting affects all the areas of our lives, and is not just a matter for a short period of time, but for a lifetime. Mission impossible?
Fortunately, « you must deny yourselves » is not merely a command from God. It also holds the promise that we will make it through His grace and His help.