"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6:16-18).
Let’s be honest: fasting is hard. It’s not exactly something we love to do. Many of us ignore or dismiss fasting as a lesser spiritual discipline.
Or, if we fast, we want to tell everyone about our sacrifice. It’s definitely tempting to discuss fasting with a false air of humility, craving praise and commendation from others.
But we don’t need human recognition. Our Maker sees us! Whether we fast, help a friend, or even wash the dishes, God appreciates and recognizes our good deeds. If we let them, these practices can be acts of worship to God.
Of course, God does not require good works for salvation. We can rest in Him and bask in His unconditional love and acceptance. But our Savior is worthy of our service. Why not give back to him?
The central purpose of fasting, a form of service exemplified by Jesus, is not only to deny the body but to enhance the soul. When we take a break from something, physical or not, we can fill the void with conversation with God. Though He gives us temporary things to enjoy, no pleasure is equal to the lasting riches of knowing Him. The object of fasting is not to strip away but merely to step away, allowing God to remind us that only He can satisfy.
Whether we’re fasting from gossip, chocolate, or Netflix, let’s turn our focus away from ourselves and toward the One who gives us every good and perfect gift.