Summary: Jesus talks about God giving us our daily bread but then fasting. He also says we "do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” I know this to be true. When I have fasted it has helped me to hear from God.
Matthew 6 - Part 5 – A DIET THAT REALLY WORKS!
I bought some new bathroom scales recently, but I don’t like them. They tell you about your body fat ratio, and a number of other things, to help you determine not only what weight you are but how fit and healthy you are. They told me that I have crossed the line and that I am now obese. Fortunately, I don’t have any trouble with dieting. Weight falls off me when I make decisions to lose weight. It’s just making the decision that is difficult.
But Matthew 6:16 isn’t talking about dieting. It’s talking about FASTING.
Matthew 6 is an amazing chapter. So many leadership principles here. Of course, that’s what Jesus intended since He went up on the mountain and taught His disciples. But there are things that are still foreign to me, like FASTING. Foreign in the sense that I rarely do it. Yet Jesus expected His disciples to fast. He said “And when you fast,...” (Matthew 6:16) not “IF you fast” yet fasting is not something I practise very often. I know very little about going without food.
Strange that one minute Jesus is talking about God giving us our daily bread and then the next He is speaking of fasting. There’s nothing wrong with food. God provides it. It has to be good. But Jesus also said, in Matthew 4:4 (NLT) “...‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” I know this to be true. When I have fasted it has helped me to hear from God.
I saw one of my daughter’s magazines yesterday with some skinny, half starved super models on the cover who live in extravagance and must eat like those in a refugee camp, all because they want to be admired by people and paid enormous amounts of money. The fasting Jesus discourages is fasting like that. Fasting that draws people’s attention. He says “don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18 NLT)
Those super models don’t exactly look dishevelled and miserable, at least outwardly, but they do make a living on the admiration of people. Accordingly that’s the only reward they’ll get. It’s the only reward they really want. I can’t help feeling, however, that many people must find their appearance revoltingly unattractive. Extravagance on one hand with outfits worth thousands of dollars, and yet starving on the other.
The admiration of people drives me to excess and limits my potential to hear from God. How often do I limit my life to the human equation rather than lift things to a place where God’s miracles can take place. I don’t feel the need to fast, at least at present, Lord, but I do need to lift the level of my thinking (and I do need to diet for health reasons, but that’s different).