When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance—Matt. 6: 16.
Fasting is specially commendable to the Lord's people at times when they find themselves lacking in spirituality and exposed to severe temptations from the world, the flesh and the devil; for by impoverishing the physical force and vitality, it may assist the full-blooded and impulsive to self-control in every direction. We believe that a majority of Christians would be helped by occasional fasting, a very plain diet for a season, if not total abstinence. But fastings to be seen and known of men or to be conjured up in our own minds as marks of piety on our part, would be injurious indeed and lead to spiritual pride and hypocrisy, which would far outweigh their advantages to us in the way of self-restraints.
Those who afflict themselves to appear religious before others are as bad as those who pray and do alms to be seen of men. The Christians' fast is self-denial and should be entered into with grateful, joyous appreciation as a coveted opportunity for the Lord's glory. And the more of self-denial they can manifest in this spirit the sweeter is the perfume of faith, hope, love and obedience that ascends from them in prayer to God.
Parallel passages: Isa. 58: 5; Deut. 12: 18; 1Sam. 2: 1; 1Chron. 16: 27; Ezra 6: 22; Neh. 8: 10, 12; 12: 43; Psa. 4: 7; 5: 11; 16: 5-11; 30: 11; 68: 3; 89: 15, 16; 97: 11, 12; 126: 5, 6; Luke 6: 22, 23; John 15: 11; 16: 20, 22, 24, 33; Acts 16: 25, 34; 2Cor. 6: 10; 7: 4; 8: 2; 12: 10; Heb. 10: 34; Jas. 1: 2; 1Pet. 4: 13.
Questions: Have I this week rejoiced or been sad amid my self-denials? Why? With what results?
COURAGE! PRESS ON
TIRED! Well, what of that?
Didst fancy life was spent on beds of ease,
Fluttering the rose leaves scattered by the breeze?
Come, rouse thee! work while it is called to-day:
Courage! arise! go forth upon thy way.
Lonely! and what of that?
Some must be lonely; 'tis not given to all
To feel a heart responsive rise and fall,
To blend another life within its own:
Work can be done in loneliness. Work on.
Dark! Well, what of that?
Didst fondly dream the sun would never set?
Dost fear to lose thy way? Take courage yet!
Learn thou to walk by faith, and not by sight;
Thy steps will guided be, and guided right.
Hard! Well, what of that?
Didst fancy life one summer holiday,
With lessons none to learn, and naught but play?
Go—get thee to thy task! Conquer or die!
It must be learned; learn it, then, patiently.
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