Ought is not…

Russell Minick

grieve to God and trust his comprehensive promise

Blessed are those who mourn; they shall be comforted

{Matthew 5:4 seems to be explained in Matthew 6:16-18}

Fasting as mourning over what is not right

  • Fasting was a primary spiritual discipline (like prayer & giving).
  • Fasting is giving up something good (like food) because you are more concerned about something else (that’s not good/right/as it should be)


He did not eat food or drink water, because he was mourning over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.  Ezra 10:6b (HCSB)

16 David pleaded with God for the boy. He fasted, went home, and spent the night lying on the ground.   – 2 Samuel 12:16 (HCSB)

When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.   – Nehemiah 1:4 (HCSB)


14 Then John’s disciples came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?”

15 Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests be sad while the groom is with them? The time will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. – Matthew 9:14–15 (HCSB)

Dramatic fasting and grieving can get you some socially “rewarding” attention.

MT6:16 “Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. For they make their faces unattractive so their fasting is obvious to people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward!


  • Jesus’ is teaching on a blessed life with God as royal Father
  • The goal is to grow up in relation to God and his righteousness
  • Attention from people does not help that goal, and can distract

MT6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head, and wash your face, 18 so that you don’t show your fasting to people but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  Matthew 6:16–18 (HCSB)


Blessed fasting is the kind that is trusting God with problems and hurts

  • Looking fresh keeps us from the temptation to fast/grieve for attention
  • Crying out to God through fasting brings your body into your heart and soul’s concern
  • Since God is your hope for comfort, God should be your focus in fasting

Summary: Fasting is grieving to God with all of your being (heart/mind/strength) as you trust him as the only ultimate source of comfort.

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