A Miser Fast

Since the beginning of the New Year, we have looked each week at a different form of fasting that a person can express one day each month. First was the meal fast, which is typically what people think of the most when they think of fasting – doing without food for a period of time.

The second was a media fast, spending the day disconnected from all the sources that pour information into us or appeal for a response from us whether it be television or radio or social media or telephone media. Every time you are tempted to engage in some sort of media, use the time instead as an opportunity to engage with God.

The third fast I have encouraged you to attempt one day a month, all year long, is what I call a mood fast. Some of you are never in a bad mood, but for the rest of us who know and get sucked into a bad attitude during the day, commit that whenever you are tempted to slide off into an anger moment or a mad moment or a bad mood moment during the day, put the brakes on. Don’t do it and turn to God and ask Him to turn that moment into a positive, Christ-honoring, people-helping, encouraging moment. Alleviate the bad mood by substituting a good action that you can do for the Lord.

Today, we look at the fourth and final of the fasts. At the outset, it looks mighty easy to do these things. All you have to do is fast one day a month from sunup to sundown, for each of these different fasts. It would probably be most helpful if you had the same type of fast on the same day of each week, to develop a pattern and an attitude of participation. You know your schedule. You know the best opportunities for you, but just commit to doing it.

This fourth and final fast is one to which I refer as a miser fast. Every one of us has leanings in our lives toward being miserly. Other words that describe what is taking place in us would be covetousness or greediness or selfishness or maybe self-centeredness. Jesus warned His disciples in Luke 12:15 to beware of covetousness. Beware of greediness that can take over your life. In fact, whether you remember it or not — and it seems as though it may be the most overlooked of the Ten Commandments — the tenth and final commandment is to not covet. Covetousness is a tendency that takes place at its very beginnings in the depths of your heart and is nearly always expressed in material control and desires. Concerning selfishness, greediness, and being covetous, it seems that one of the main actions that would bring about a cure for our greed is graciousness.

Here is the fast for the miser in you. Move away from being greedy. Move beyond the walls of miserliness and holding onto everything for yourself and not sharing with anyone else. It will take some work but on this fast, this one day per month, set out to do something for someone that would be nothing more or less than a gracious expression to them and then move on to the next part of your life. It’s amazing to stop and think about the opportunities that are out there for us just to do something kind, uplifting, encouraging, and a blessing. It could be to someone you know or it could be to a total stranger that you have never seen and may never see again. Go out of your way to do something nice.

That act could be anonymous, seeking no thanks or response or appreciation but just out of the gratitude of your heart. It could be at a table where you have enjoyed a meal and you leave an extra generous expression of appreciation in the server’s tip, not because the person did a super job but because you want to be super nice. It may be someone in the line ahead of you, paying for groceries and they don’t have enough money and are struggling to try to find enough to pay for their small handful of articles and you’re in a position to step up there and say, “Excuse me.  Let me get this,” and offer the money and send them on their way. Do you think they would ever forget that? Do you think you will soon forget that? It’s uncalled for, unnecessary, and unexpected, but can be used of God not only to bless somebody but used of God to bless you enormously.

As you think about this miser’s fast and all the excuses and reasons for not doing something nice for somebody and being gracious with what God has been gracious in giving you, remember these points about fasting in general. One, Jesus believed in fasting. Two, Jesus practiced fasting. Three, there seems to always be a greater blessing that awaits us if we are willing to exercise this biblical, spiritual endeavor which simply means you have a blessing awaiting you if you are willing to concentrate on spending one day a week letting God and His will and His blessings come to the forefront in your life.

In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul makes a long list of things that can ruin and corrupt us and keep us from knowing the joy of blessings of God. In that long list he includes the covetous man, who will not be an inheritor of the blessings of the Kingdom of Christ. It’s amazing to wonder how many blessings we have missed because we did not spend more days on the miser fast. Get in on the blessings, and I trust that throughout the day God will show you the joys that will flood your heart by simply being gracious.

The author can be contacted at directions@mbcb.org.

Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer