Sunday, December 5, 2021
16-18 “When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity, but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.
-Matthew 6:16-18 The Message
Fasting; The True Treasure; Wealth
Verse 16: “Now whenever you fast, do not make a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they distort their faces so that they will be noticed by people when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
Verse 16 study: Fasting is challenging when you are going without food. But you are fasting to spend time in prayer. It gives you time to pray, shows your self-discipline, and it reminds us that we can live off less and appreciate God’s gifts. Jesus condemns hypocrisy when fasting and not fasting itself, like gaining public approval. For the Jews, the Jewish people must fast once a year on the day of atonement (Leviticus 23:22). The Pharisees voluntarily fasted twice a week to impress the people with their “holiness.” Jesus praises those who acted on self-sacrifice done quietly and sincerely. He wanted people to adopt spiritual disciplines for the right reasons, not a selfish desire for praise.
Verse 17: But as for you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
Verse 18: so that your fasting will not be noticed by people but by your Father who is in secret; your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Verse 17 study: A person would anoint their head with olive oil, using a common cosmetic like a lotion. Jesus said, “Go about your day when you fast. Don’t make a show of it.”
Father, there is a lot of us that may have fasted before. Therefore, your lesson about fasting is head-on. Fasting kept me focused on your word, away from food, and praying more than I have when I am not fasting. Fasting is healthy, and thanks to you for allowing us to experience fasting. I pray for those who haven’t fasted yet to try it. Let this lesson be a start in encouragement. In Jesus’ name. Amen.