Outside of that second helping of pumpkin pie in November, I think we all go through periods where we realize we haven’t done much in any area of life. We fall into the same traps of temptation year after year. For me, prayerfully entering into fasting from parts of my life, not simply food, has revealed some powerful truths.
To be tempted is not a sin. Men, does this sound familiar: “Alright, Jesus, make me so holy that I don’t even look in the direction of anything tempting!” Five minutes later some smoking hot woman comes walking down the street looking like a million dollars. Waves of guilt set in because you happened to notice. Jesus was tempted for forty days. Temptation will come. The sin comes when you mismanage the temptation.
Your spirit is a muscle. Your flesh is too. They’re often at odds. Now, don’t lose me here. There is nothing wrong with feeding the flesh. We need food and rest. The test comes when the Word instructs you or God calls you to do something that your flesh doesn’t like. That’s when we find out which muscleman we have fed more.
You can’t fast sin. I read a tweet the other day from a single guy I know. “Fasting sex for Lent. I can’t wait for Easter!” If you want to stop having one-night stands, then stop having one-night stands. If you want to stop binge drinking, then stop binge drinking. Telling God you’re taking a brief break from sin in His honor isn’t doing you or Him any good.
Fasting fights future temptation. When I fast, essentially I’m saying, “God build me up. Help me grow in spite of me,” so that the next time I notice that pretty young thing, (shout out, M.J.) I’ll have the strength and conviction to look the other way. It’s an act of obedience through a season of submission of things I want right now that aren’t necessarily bad, but by denying them I build strength over flesh.
Fasting is stewardship of the flesh. The concept of responsibly managing our money isn’t foreign to us and neither is our car, house, relationships, etc. Don’t you think God wants us to take stewardship of the first thing He gave us when we entered this planet and the last thing we’ll have on our way out? I don’t care how buff you are, if you aren’t asking God to teach you how to keep your flesh in check, you’re not in stewardship of your body.
If there isn’t joy, there isn’t purpose. I had a friend say to me one time, “I can’t eat a burger with you guys. God told me to fast so I’m just going home to eat a salad.” The look on his face made it seem like he just lost the Showcase Showdown by $1. Bob Barker, tell the ladies to give him a hug! If you can’t have joy that God is asking you to grow in Him, then don’t do it. On top of that, no need to tell everybody either. It’s a fast, not a pity party.
If the purpose isn’t to glorify God, it isn’t from God. This is huge, but simple. Let it guide you. If the heart of what you’re trying to accomplish isn’t going to glorify God, then don’t bother. All things are for His glory.
Christians are either comfort driven or destiny driven. “Brandon, this is a bunch of over-religious crap. Christ is my Savior. I go to church. I told a dude the other day that Jesus is my homeboy.” Good for you, but don’t be surprised if you look back years from now and realize you never quite got to where you wanted to go. You were driven by comfort, not destiny. Comfort-driven people are complacent. If you need a reminder, I already had a say on that a couple weeks ago.
I am not saying that we should be fasting all the time. What we should be doing is consistently making the flesh uncomfortable. If the reason you need a vacation or a day off is only because of your job, you aren’t doing enough. Work and stretch the will of your flesh consistently so that it too needs a break. Assess the areas of life that the flesh is winning the battle over your spirit. If you come to Him with a willing and joyful heart, I promise God will show you.
On the other side is a path of stewardship that isn’t always smooth, but leads to His destiny for your life.
*Photo credit: anathea