Is fasting a heart issue? I hear all kinds of arguments, “fasting from Facebook, fasting from football”, etc.
We often second-guess ourselves about the “purity of our motives” and whether we can truly “follow God from the heart” or whether this is a “real” fast.
But let’s break it down this way.
1) Everything we do comes from our heart: our entire being.
2) Our hearts are always mixed up with spotty motives, because we’re human and we have that condition called sin.
3) But we follow God anyway, imperfectly, by all His available grace.
So hey: If someone in their less-than-perfect knowledge of Jesus decides to fast from Facebook and football and donuts and blogging and smoking, no one has a right to cut in with judgments of “heart issues” or other condemning accusations.
I do understand what what you mean here — that we should advise people of being sincere because there’s a danger of making it a religious duty — but I have met absolutely NO ONE who says, “You know what, I want my fast to be fake this time. I’m tired of being authentic.”
By the grace of God, we’re all struggling to be real here, and if fasting from watching the game on Mondays will help with that, then by all means let’s applaud our baby steps together.
Christians tend to beat up one another over sincerity, but if you really want someone to be sincere, you don’t hammer them with, “Are you guys for real or what? Do sincerity harder!” We’re all a little too quick to point out the problem than a path forward.
To be real: Just say how hard this is, and then go to God for the strength. Jesus, on the night of his trial before the crucifixion, was sweating blood and asking the Father for another way out. That’s pretty real to me.
So if you or a friend is fasting and you guys are worried about being real, instead of ripping your robes and wearing a burlap bag on your head, simply acknowledge: “I know my heart is messed up, and I’m inclined towards false religion and boasting and obligation during this fast — so Lord, help us to crave you whenever we crave something else, and I know your grace will cover us where we fall short.”
With that sort of mentality, you’ll be far more likely to succeed in not only overcoming your cravings, but having real intimacy with Jesus himself. If there are any false motives in your heart, you will find those along the way and extricate them by the Spirit, so it doesn’t matter how you start — just start. And if you allow grace to work, you won’t be judging overs, but encouraging them like runners on a course chasing after the goal.
Please allow me the grace to unabashedly quote myself from many months ago to close out:
When I pray, sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself instead of God. Or when I read the Bible, sometimes I’m just getting information instead of transformation. Or when I serve, I sometimes go through the motions.
But you know what? I keep praying anyway. I keep reading the Bible. I keep serving. We all go through false starts, dry seasons, times of detachment, mixed up motives, and self-doubt. But I keep running to God then, too. Satan’s gameplan is to keep you second-guessing yourself; he’s happy as long as you’re not going to God. So I’m all for doing the thing that pisses off Satan.