Fasting For Lent

1 Peter 3:18

Back when I was in the military I remember one of my friends asking me “So what are you giving up for Lent?”

It was a very strange question, especially coming from someone who didn’t care all that much about going to church. But a bunch of my friends had already decided what they were giving up for Lent. Some said they were giving up beer, others said they were giving up smoking, or caffeine, or meat.

So, should we give up something for Lent? In old testament times God commanded the children of Israel to fast on specific occasions like the Day of Atonement. They were commanded to do so.

In the New Testament, while God does mention fasting on many occasions he does not command us that you must do this or else you are sinning. So we have freedom in this area whether or not we fast or give up something for Lent. If you choose to do so, though, remember two things.

First is this: don’t tell anybody about it. Jesus condemned the Pharisees in Mathew Chapter 6 for making known that they were fasting, that they were giving up something to make themselves look better or more righteous or holy in other people eyes. Instead may your fasting be private just between you and God.

Secondly, do it for the right reason. Reasons people give for fasting maybe are weight loss, or maybe a test of their will power. But in Isaiah 58 God tells us that a couple of good reasons for fasting would be to use that money that we’d normally use for food items or other things to give to the poor.

But more importantly to use that opportunity of fasting as we feel those hunger pains to be reminded of our sins. The sins that we have committed against God’s holy law. But also, especially during Lent, to remind us of Christ and everything he suffered for those sins.

In first Peter chapter 3 it says this:

Christ also suffered once for sins in our place, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. —1 Peter 3:18

So whether or not you fast during Lent, may this season be a reminder to you of your sins, that led Jesus to the cross, but understand that he did suffer for those sins to bring you to God. Amen.

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