6 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so 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 6:16-18, NIV)
Leading up to the Season of Lent, many people post on social media about how they won’t be around and posting for the next several weeks. They are “fasting” from social media for Lent. During the Season of Lent, if someone brings up a popular social media post, “they disfigure their faces,” solemnly announcing that they are not using social media at this time. They want credit.
We all want credit for the work we do. And we usually want the credit immediately. We want others to know what we did. We want to be able to talk about how we were able to accomplish such a feat. This idea is prevalent in today’s society.
Jesus warns against this desire. Fasting, which can take many forms and does not always refer to abstaining from food, is a good thing! It can help grow a person’s relationship with the Lord and it should be an entirely voluntary undertaking. But it is also something that should not be posted on social media. It should not be brought up in every conversation you have. Fasting should be between the person fasting and the Lord. Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days. It helped prepare Him for His coming ministry.
Jesus warns that if we seek earthly recognition for our fast, that is all the recognition we will receive. This is not the first time Jesus issued such a warning. The religious leaders of the day had a habit of making sure everyone knew when they were suffering for the Lord. They did it for the earthly recognition, not for strengthening their relationship with God. While fasting, a person should strive to appear as normal as possible.
Fasting is not required of Christians. It is voluntary! Fasting is mentioned many times throughout the Bible, both in the Old and New Testament. Frequently, fasting is done during a time of great sorrow, or great need. But like all other things, it needs to be done in a way that glorifies the Lord. We must follow His instructions! Done as intended, fasting redirects a person’s attention to the Lord. It takes our focus off the world and allows us to expand our relationship with our Savior.
Consider your relationship with the Lord. How do you grow it? Are the works you do for His glory or yours? Whose praise do you seek?
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