What are the ramifications if I quit?
Sometime in my childhood, I was taught that “quitters never win.” There is an absolute logic to that statement. If you quit before completion, you disqualify yourself from experiencing the outcome.
This applies to fasting. We find ourselves at day 4. (If you are scoring at home, this means we are over half way.) How are you doing? Have you been tempted to quit? Some of you may already have. So, what are the ramifications if you have quit?
I actually thought about this yesterday. There were a couple times that instinct for the behavior I am avoiding had me involuntarily heading toward a quit. Those times caused me to pause and consider, “why am I doing this…what do I hope to achieve?” (By the way, it is a good exercise to ask yourself this about much of what you routinely do!)
If I would have quit, what would that have meant? I mean, after all, I made it almost three whole days! Surely, that would have counted for at least a bronze star in heaven. Maybe God would at least punch my “Going Above And Beyond Christian” pass with another stamp (fyi…that pass doesn’t exist!). Maybe He would shine partial favor upon me. Would any of those benefits be why I am fasting…why you are fasting?
GETTING TO THE POINT
So, why do we fast? Better to broaden the question…why do we do anything of spiritual value? Is it the rewards that we’ll get in heaven? Is it to get rewards or favor on earth? My answer for why we should fast or do anything of spiritual value is two-fold.
First, it is because we delight in our Savior, and the behavior is what He expects us to do. I have already alluded to this, but take Matthew 6, for example. Jesus refers to expected spiritual behavior with the assumption that you are practicing them: “When you give…” “When you pray…” “When you fast…” A parallel would be the way a husband should treat his wife. He opens the doors for her, works hard to provide, gets up in the middle of the night to get her water, dates her, frees her up to spend time with her girl friends, buys her flowers, texts her “I love you” messages, washes dishes, puts away laundry…okay, you can come up with your own list. But, why does he do these things? It could be that he wants something from his wife or expects her to respond a certain way. If THAT is why he does things, that will only last as long as she fulfills his expectations, or else his frustration will grow. It should be that the delight he has for his wife overflows in these behaviors. THAT is sustainable. They are not contingent on her responses. This is why we fast. We delight in our Savior!
Second, it is because this is part of abiding in Christ. We see that term vividly on display in Christ’s teaching of His disciples in John 15:1-11. We hear it talked about a lot, but what does it mean to abide in Christ? Well, fasting is a part of it. The verb translated “abiding” means: to remain in the same place over a period of time (Louw-Nida, 85.55). The idea is of sticking around, staying close by, not leaving someone’s side. Abiding in Christ involves spending time with Him. How do we do that? By studying His Word…through prayer…by listening to great biblical preaching…by talking to others about Him…by – you guessed it – fasting!
Fasting is an opportunity to clear distractions and focus on Christ. Our relationship with Him can so easily get pushed to the side in the midst of our busy lives. The value in not quitting is that our delighting and abiding in Christ in this very unique way has the potential to grow our love for Him and teach us that we can actually control our cravings or impulses and not be ruled by them. It teaches us that we can make time for Christ in the midst of busy schedules. And, the more we learn those valuable lessons, the more time we’ll spend time with Him. And the more time we spend with Him, the more our love for Him will grow!
1. What are 5 reasons to delight in Christ?
2. What have you learned about your own flesh and your impulses as you have been abiding in Christ through fasting?
3. Spend time today praying a prayer of delight for Christ!
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit…(John 15:5)