June 15, 2107
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
Have you ever done something very special for someone you love—but only because you love them? Something that only you and only the one you loved knew about? It creates a very special bond.
In the home I had that was destroyed by fire last year, were many special items that only had value to me, because they were gifts given by to me by special people: a smooth stone, a cross necklace, a Confederate $100 bill, a simple soap dish——worthless to most people but special to me because of the one that gave it to me.
Fasting is not the point of this passage: what we do for God, secretly, because we love Him, is the point. It’s the secret things we do for Him, with Him, and that He does for us in secret, that makes the difference and that creates the unbreakable bond and establishes a dynamic relationship.
Fasting was practiced by the early Christians and Jesus assumes that His listeners will continue the discipline. It’s a good thing. Denying the body what it demands and taking control over our appetites and instinct is a positive step in Christian sanctification. But Jesus point was clear: For whom are you fasting? The adoration and admiration of others, or as an act of love and obedience to the One you love the most?
He goes on to talk about our appearance. Do we dress and groom ourselves in a way to suggest we really are very godly, or do we live lives that prove it? It’s much easier to fast and look like you are suffering for Jesus than it is to secretly, silently and resolutely encounter criticism, slander, hateful accusation as you attempt to live for Him.
Jesus is asking a very basic question. When you fast, or pray, or give money to charity or do any outwardly spiritual act, are you doing this out of concern for what you want people to think about you or because it is a natural outflow of your affection and genuine adoration for Him.
Do I really LOVE Him, or am I craving the admiration of others?
If I really love Him I might find myself quite unpopular with humanity. If I want to impress and please others the Christian life is not the best choice. If I want to impress and please God, there is no other choice.