Friday, March 17  “When your fast, do not . . .”

Scripture:  Matthew 6:16-18

16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Some thoughts:

There are several interesting things here regarding fasting. Think about it. Fasting was a normal part of the life of every major character in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Notice here then that Jesus said when you fast, not if you fast. This is the third of the three “when’s” in this part of his Sermon on the Mount. “When” you give alms, “when” you pray, and “when” you fast. As with the other “when’s,” it also had a warning with it because of the nature of the people to whom Jesus was speaking, including us.

There were religious leaders in the society of Jesus’ day who wanted to make a show of their spirituality (imagine that!). Jesus warned that fasting is not a trick, a gimmick, or a show to gain God’s or anyone else’s approval. Even if people can be fooled or manipulated by a pious show, God will not be.  Jesus’ words were simple. Do not let anyone know when you are fasting.

He then goes on to point out that the practice unifies heaven and earth in a unique way. How so? Proper fasting is “unseen” on earth. No one on earth knows it is happening except God and the person fasting. The irony is that earth is the place where we can see things. But we cannot see into heaven as it is hidden from our view at this point. But our Father who is in heaven, who is unseen to us on earth, sees what people on earth cannot. As we keep our mouth shut both from words and food, our heavenly Father rewards us. For fasting is a matter of the heart and desire to turn away from earthly things and find the mind of God. In other words, to get to know our Savior better. Loving God is one of the motivating factors in fasting.

Music: “O Love that Will Not Let Me Go”  Indelible Grace    new tune

“O Love that Will Not Let Me Go”   Sam Robson       phenomenal arrangement!       regular tune

Prayer: O God and Father, I repent of my sinful pre-occupation with visible things. The world has been too much with me. Thou hast been here and I knew it not. I have been blind to Thy Presence. Open my eyes that I may behold Thee in and around me. For Christ’s sake, Amen.

                                                            –A.W. Tozer, from The Pursuit of God, p.72