MATTHEW 6:16_Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
Hypocrisy develops in stages. The more you succumb to it, the firmer its stronghold. Hypocrisy strongholds are motivated by life is more about my looking good than God receiving glory. Truth destroys strongholds – any stronghold. When truth fills your heart— there is no room for deception.
The disfigured face of the fasting hypocrite is designed to draw personal attention. As in a theatrical production, make-up and costumes are an essential part. The more authentic the make-up the more believable the character. If the character wants to evoke compassion for great self-sacrifice, the make-up and costume are as important as acting ability. Jesus’ disfigured face descript is about understanding this is not a time for drawing attention.
More than for strengthening the spirit, fasting to the hypocrite is a time for moving up the spiritual ladder – to the top of the totem pole. Any time God is not at the top of your totem pole – “something is rotten in the state of Denmark!” (check your Shakespeare—Hamlet).
When being the head of your Christian group is more important to you than serving God in the lives of His people, be careful – you already have your reward.
Magnificent God, I don’t want my life to be about me, I want it to be about You. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ should be the head—He is head of my life!
MATTHEW 6:16_for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast…
Any way you look at it, fasting shows up in the Bible. It appears in the Old and New Testaments as a part of the religious routine. Fasting was a normal part of worship.
There is something else which shows up. Jesus has a way of spotlighting it – hypocrisy. Hypocrites are always around. They show up in high governmental offices, on sports teams, on the stage, and unfortunately, they show up in churches.
You’ve already learned how the hypocrites’ giving alms and praying came from a heart of pride, not worship. Well, do declare, if that isn’t the same motive for their fasting!
Jesus points out they disfigure their faces when they fast. This is not for repentance or somberness of the occasion, but for exhibition. As always when He speaks of hypocrites, Jesus says not to be like them.
Religious hypocrites are great actors, and their stage is in the midst of the Christian community. They know how to manipulate the emotions of their audience. Their disfigured faces when fasting is more than feeling weak from hunger. It is to show to their audience they are making a great sacrifice for God.
Father God, I never want to be a hypocrite. I want You to be my audience. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ looks for hearts of worship—I will worship Him!
MATTHEW 6:16_Moreover when ye fast…
Another Biblical principle for times of fasting is remorse – a deep, heartfelt, sorrow for something wrong in your life. The Holy Spirit convicts your heart with guilt. When you have enough sorrow, you desire to change.
Another time for fasting is for a memorial or preparation for certain religious days or seasons. This kind of fasting is a time of serious mindedness – turning your mind away from the world to the spiritual realm of life.
Seeking God’s guidance for a certain decision or direction is another call to fast. Acts 13:2-3 (KJV) records this incident in the early Christian church, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate [to] me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
When Queen Esther faced a life and death situation not only concerning the Jewish nation, but her personal life as well, she called for a fast. Esther 4:16 (KJV), “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.“
Lord God, You call me to worship and follow You, fasting or not. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ calls me to worship and follow—I will!
MATTHEW 6:16_Moreover when ye fast…
Fasting has recently gained popularity. More and more it is considered a health benefit. There are different types of fasts. Depending upon the kind of fast, some of the benefits are improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, weight management, and heart health. These are all health issues which need attention. They are some issues you might address in adulthood, and consulted a physician.
The kind of fasting Jesus refers to in this teaching is more to benefit the spirit than the body. Health benefits for the body are still there, but that is not the purpose of the fast. Health benefits come as a byproduct of your obedience to a spiritual fast. A spiritual fast concentrates on denying the physical to strengthen the spiritual. To gain insight from the Bible, and hear the Holy Spirit’s instructions – plan to incorporate spiritual fasting into your adult life.
Unfortunately, Christians bicker over many Biblical principles, fasting is often one of them. Do not bicker or argue over the Bible – rather, love God and His people. When you are an adult, God may call you at times to fast – to deeper your relationship with Him. A deeper relationship with Jesus can only do one thing – draw you closer to living a life of freedom.
If the Holy Spirit calls you to a fast, you will know.
Holy Jesus, When I am of the age for fasting, I will know Your call. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ fasted—He may call me to as well!
MATTHEW 6:15_Neither will your Father forgive your trespasses…
The unforgiveness box holds a variety of trespasses. The largest of the litter, betrayal, is an emotional trespass – a constant guest in the box. Emotional betrayal clings. It is very difficult to shake off. Emotional trespass resists submission to peace. It does not want to forgive.
Emotions can be tender and gentle or wild and violent. Like a horse, they need a bit and bridle. James 3:3 (KJV), “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.” The more out of control our emotions, the harder they are to manage.
The central point of control and power is the heart. Rehearsing a trespass over and again in the heart makes a strong hold on emotions. The heart is bound by the trespass and cannot forgive.
On the other hand, a heart fed with the truths of Scripture is freed.
Psalm 32:8-9 (KJV),“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. 9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.’“.
God of Power, Please keep my heart under the control of Bible truths. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ can control emotions—I want Him to control mine!