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Faithful Fasting

What If Jesus Was Serious? (Part 2)

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Series Intro: Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is one of the most famous and important messages ever shared with the world. It's also one of the most challenging, with demanding messages on everything from defining our relationship with other people to how we think about God. Everyone following Jesus and anyone who wants to learn more about Him should take His words seriously.

Like Anton Ego in Ratatouille, we don’t like food—we love it! Which is why it’s so very curious that Christianity traditionally incorporates the practice of intentionally not eating food for certain periods of time. Do you want to live a life that matters? You want to live a life that truly honors God? Christianity historically highlights habits of holiness to help with that: giving, praying, and fasting.

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 NIV)

Big Idea: Fasting is for your relationship with God, not other people.

  • Remember: true holiness is fundamentally between you and Jesus.
  • v.16a: Jesus expects His followers to intentionally abstain from food.

Why Fasting?

  • Because fasting embodies a key principle of following King Jesus: death to self.
  • Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10.38-39 NIV)
  • Following King Jesus means that, sometimes, we must die to ourselves.

Kinds of Fasting

  • Instrumental Fasting: fasting in order gain some particular benefit, such as spiritual growth, improved health, or as a sign of repentance.
  • Routine Fasting: fasting on a schedule.
  • Responsive Fasting: fasting that responds to sacred or grievous moments in life.
  • Each kind of fasting can serve as an appropriate tool for us as we pursue true holiness.

Apply: How should we take Jesus seriously when it comes to fasting?

  • Beware of Christian status symbols
  • Practice fasting
  • Caveat: not everyone should fast from food. If you’re young and growing, or older, or have certain health concerns, or struggle with your body image, or have an eating disorder, I strongly caution you when it comes to fasting from food.

For Reflection

  • How does today’s passage resonate with how you think people should live?
  • How does today’s passage challenge your expectations?
  • How can you dig deeper into today’s message?
  • How can you put today’s message into practice in your own life?

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Remember: Jesus loves you right where you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there.