A Fast for All
“Is not this the fast that I choose: … Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house?”
In Matthew 6:16, Jesus describes fasting as a deeply personal act of self-deprivation that we practice before the Father in private, and you’ve probably responded to that by fasting from coffee for a month, or by cutting out internet for a week, or by refraining from food and water for a day or two. But notice here in Isaiah 58:6-7 that God lays out a more public sort of fast that’s measured by sacrificial service rather than self-deprivation. In this fast, we get no benefit merely from depriving ourselves of food; the benefit only comes when, through our deprivation, we feed someone else. Now, there’s nothing wrong with feeling sanctified when we watch the sunset instead of TV or eat spinach instead of chocolate cake or drink water instead of soda; but we need to recognize that personal fasts like these don’t fulfill God’s higher commission to love our neighbors as ourselves.
So Christian, today, as you continue to practice your own private Matthew 6-fast before the Lord, be vigilant to practice a public Isaiah 58-fast as well: a fast that prepares a feast for others.