Practical Proverbial, from Matthew, 23 May 2023. Today’s topic: A Reliable Guidepost

But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  Matthew 6:17-18

So, instead of fasting to focus on us, Jesus wants us to fast to focus on God.  In order to do that, He tells us to look normal.   Put on your best, most normal clothing.   Wash up and look fresh.   If you look like you’re suffering, put on some (oil) makeup.  Do this so that the rest of the world around us doesn’t know we are doing this thing to honor God.   In this way, we’re hiding in plain sight while our sacrifice is visible to God the Father, but nobody else.

Is this abnormal?   No, it allows us to keep living and being productive.

Isn’t that making a show of fasting?  No.  It’s preserving normal outward appearances so that our ‘sacrifice’ is private, shared only with God. 

Isn’t it deceptive?   Again, no.  See “preserving normal outward appearances.”  Besides, the heart of deception is the heart.   We aren’t intending to deceive.   We’re simply looking to appear normal, as if nothing is out of the ordinary (when, in fact, it is) so as to preserve our privacy and effort for the Lord.

Isn’t this a little ridiculous?  Finally, again, no, unless you consider it ‘normal’ for people to put on a show whenever they fast, whenever they do things for the Lord that look a whole lot like they’re doing them for themselves.   If you think about it, that could be much of what we do.   That isn’t normal:  it’s sin.

Please understand:  this isn’t spin.  God’s Word, His commands and ideas and practices need no human spin.   Sometimes they’re difficult to comprehend, but usually that’s because we’ve complicated them somehow. What Jesus tells us to do here, regarding our fasting sacrifice to God, is easy to do and easy to understand.  In everything he said or did, Jesus was always concerned with our honesty, our being genuine in our dealings with Him and each other.  He calls out this particular practice because it was prominent in his own time, and because (I believe) He knew it would be a good object lesson for generations to come.

Jesus doesn’t tell us to NOT fast.   Instead, He reminds us to be honest about it, and to do things that preserve our integrity.   Today, fasting is “a thing” again.  Jesus directed us to downplay the effects of a fast so as to keep this demonstration of our devotion to God pure.  When you think about it, that applies to so much more than simply skipping a few meals.   It’s a reliable guidepost for everything that we do.

For more reading:  Matthew 6:19

Father, remind me today to be humble for You, to fast quietly so I may focus more on You and all You’re doing.

Published by aspiringwriterdt

It's about's about the life He gives's about going day by's about you. It's not about me.

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