Throughout the sermon on the mount, Jesus gives a clear message on how we are to live as genuine, authentic Christians. This is Christ teaching us how we are expected to live our lives as we follow Him.
He expects us to be committed to prayer and gave us the model to follow. Immediately after this, He explains what He expects from us when we fast.
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. – Matthew 6:16-18.
This is not a command, it is a discipline and a commitment made before God on a personal level. Not everyone can go without food for long periods of time due to medical reasons, but all of us make commitments to God in one form or another.
There is something to learn from these verses in whatever commitment or discipline you are giving to God.
- We should not be hypocritical, our commitment must be sincere and pure.
- Don’t make a big show of the commitment you have made. If you have given something up, or made a financial commitment, we should not highlight our loss in order to gain pity or gratitude from men.
- We should not try to look more religious on the outside, after all Jesus called the most religious people whitewashed tombs.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. – Matthew 23:27,28.
They looked good on the outside, but inside was nothing but dead bones, because their motivation was wrong. Our commitment without the right motivation can lead to what we read in the book of Timothy.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! – 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Those things we do to look good on the outside, are both worthless and powerless.
The approval of others is not worth more than the reward of God. Your audience is God alone and He promises to reward you for the commitment you make in the secret place.
Whatever commitment you make toward God, remember that the most satisfying meal is a hunger for God and when you commit your life to Him, He will always satisfy.