To Eat or Not to Eat?
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.
Have I mentioned how much I love to eat? And not only eat, but I enjoy the pursuit of cooking a deliciously tasting gourmet meal that not only tastes great but looks fabulous. But, today is Wednesday and I really shouldn’t be writing about food; it will only tempt me more!
Wednesdays have always been a traditional day of fasting according to the ancient ways of the Christian faith. The Jews fasted on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The early Christians, wanting to distinguish themselves from the Jews, chose Wednesdays and Fridays as fast days. Wednesdays are in remembrance of the betrayal of Jesus during the last week of His life before the cross, and Fridays are in honor of the day of His crucifixion.
The very fact that the Jews had two days of fasting each week should say something to us of what God expects from us. Jesus grew up fasting in a devout Jewish home. That means He fasted on Tuesdays and Thursdays and celebrated all the many rituals of the faith in which He was raised.
We should take note that in the gospels Jesus never says the words, ‘if you fast’. Rather, in Matthew chapter 6 we hear Jesus say, “When you fast”. Jesus expects his disciples to fast. However, in many modern Christian churches the discipline of fasting is rarely if ever practiced. We should also note that fasting, in biblical terms, is always the giving up of food for a given time, and for the purpose of learning to rely upon God for our sustenance.
We should take note that in the gospels Jesus never says the words, ‘if you fast’
It’s interesting to me that the early church didn’t just fast during a particular season of the year, like Lent; they fasted every week. The practice of fasting quickly reveals the things that control our appetites. When we tell ourselves we will do without something Satan seems to bring the temptation of it right to the forefront of our minds.
The practice of fasting quickly reveals the things that control our appetites.
It is precisely in leaning on the power of God’s Spirit to help us overcome such temptations that we find the real value of fasting – we grow in the mighty power of God’s Spirit. We learn to do the hard work of relying upon God for spiritual food that fills and sustains us in ways earthly foods can’t. Several hours after eating our hunger pains soon return to haunt us. However, after feasting on God during our fasting, we will have a satisfaction no earthly food can give.
So, how’s your Lenten fast going? It’s never too late to begin, or should I say, ‘begin again’. Why not try it today? Offer some time of fasting and self-denial to the Lord today, and spend the time you would normally be eating in prayer and reading of the Word. If you do, I promise you’ll find more than enough to satisfy your desires. To not eat may make you feel wilted at first, like turning to ash, but remember, God can turn ashes into Beauty.
Shalom for a Holy Lent,
image credit: https://www.thespruceeats.com/gourmet-defined-1665527