How did we ever get that name? Fasting is a time where the Spirit of God quickens us, (makes alive), and we grow closer to God. We are quickened through periods of fasting. So, to fast is to become more alive in Christ Jesus. But I think we’ve lost sight of the method of fasting.
I’d much rather fast from being cynical then from drinking Dr Pepper. I’d much rather fast from sarcasm then fast from gluten. What does it profit to abstain from things that do the body harm while indulging things that do the mind and spirit harm: both mine and others?
What is the purpose of all these token religious rituals? When people go on exclusive diets for the sake of making their body feel better and function more properly, Yet they do it against their own will, and forsaking their own pleasure, doesn’t really profit them at all? I would say no. I’ve gone on diets and fasts for the sake of doing them, and for the sake of being more spiritually in tune and aware of God. However, the lack of those things that are needful to the body, and those things which the bodies become acclimated to distract so much from the spiritual aspect of the fast that I can hardly think of anything other than food. When I remove that which is needful to the body, I then work against my own wants and desires, this causes me to turn my focus directly to those wants and desires rather than away from them.
It’s not that I love these things more than God, but they are things that are necessary to the body, things that the body has grown so accustomed to that it cannot function properly without, and things that perhaps I did not even really want to get rid of.
I think one of the most important factors in a fast is not that we take something away that we spend time on. By that token men could fast from their children, wives, extended family, from church, from reading the Bible. And none of these things are profitable to fast from. A fast should be the removal of something that has been replacing God in your life. When you find you do certain physical things more than spiritual things. It may even be as seemingly insignificant as you’d rather spend time with friends than with God. When the things of this earth become more important than things eternal, it’s time to fast and refocus. But it’s never to be done lightly, never to be done simply for the sake of doing it.
I do believe we should not forsake things simply because they are major parts of our life. If I was to get rid of Dr Pepper from my diet right now, I wouldn’t stop wanting Dr Pepper anymore than I do right now. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I don’t think that applies simply to people. If I was to cut gluten out of my diet exclusively right now, that does not mean I would stop wanting a piece of bread; rather it would increase my wants of those things. Therefore it is not profitable for me to fast from Dr. Pepper or gluten unless I feel that those two things are replacing God or other important things in my life. As of right now I have not felt that way about either.
What is a diet? What is its purpose? Well, a good definition of dieting is: the abstinence from that which does not benefit the body. But that is not what it means today. Dieting today is more of a regimen of rules and restrictions to regulate a desired result. We remove things from our diets that work against our goal: whether it be to lose weight, to condition our bodies for exercise, or to nourish our bodies for a certain appearance. But isn’t all of this vanity?
There are things I take into my body for comfort, for pleasure, often for clarity, but never simply for the sake of excluding spiritual things. Another thing to consider is that a diet should never profit the body only or else it is vain and useless. I understand there are those who must adhere to diets for serious health reasons, I’m not speaking to them. This post is about voluntary diets, things we subject ourselves to intentionally.
But, if my diet keeps me healthy yet the abstinence from unhealthy food causes me to become discontent, aggravated, cynical and short with others, and to respond out of my own miserable state, then it is wrong. Even more so, if I avoid something edible for the sake of my bodily betterment, yet refrain from the same treatment to spiritual or character degradation what good does it me?
A diet from pride, anger, greed, jealousy, lust, arrogance, slander, conceit, or gossiping is far more beneficial than one from Little Debbie snack cakes. When we fast or diet, we often use the verse:
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
–1 Corinthians 6:19 (KJV)
Saying that if the body is a temple, we should do our best to preserve it and care for it. However, which is more important to God, a clean colon or a clean heart and mind? It is of greater gain to the Kingdom if we start considering our minds and hearts as the temple of the Holy Ghost, treating our life as if we’re not our own, we may find ourselves less concerned with our diet, and more concerned with the state of sinners. Lord help us break this vain pattern of self-glory and conceit. We are prideful beings and glory in our bodies and physical appearance, yet God looks on the heart, not the stomach of man. Let God direct you, let the Holy Ghost be your guide to lead you into all truth.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist