Fasting unto the Lord (Through the Gospels)
"And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others” ^Matthew 6:16 (Click to read entire passage).
It is commonly agreed upon among Christians that fasting is one of the most ‘spiritual’ things a person can do. It’s as if it’s for the ‘elite’ Christians. Knowing this, Jesus gets straight to the point.
If you are going to fast, it has to be unto God and not to be noticed by man. In religious communities, the most religious person is the most respected person. The one who engages in the most religious activities is admired by their peers.
But in the Christian community, the only thing that matters is the heart. Everything we do that is not motivated by a pure heart is rejected by God. Though man may be impressed, God is not.
Jesus addresses this by saying, “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others” (Matthew 6:16). Jesus is talking to a very religious community and society. Apparently these Jews were fasting and making it known to others by dressing and acting a certain way. Jesus confronts this and tells says, “Anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret” (Matthew 6:16).
Why does Jesus say this? It’s because when you do things in secret, it guards your heart from corruption. When we do things for God without others seeing, it guards our heart from self-promotion and self-exaltation. Jesus wants these Jewish followers to fast but to do it in a way where it will not be noticed by others. This does not mean we literally cannot tell people when we fast, but Jesus is teaching a spiritual principle about doing things unto the Lord.
Do you find yourself tempted to let the world know all the things you are doing? Do you find yourself wanting to tell others how ‘spiritual’ you are? If you do, don’t. Hide and get away from people and get alone with God. Do things unto Him and Him alone and your heart will be purified in very personal and intimate ways.