Bible Study Lesson; Matthew 6:16-18
During the time of Jesus, fasting was a common ritual done in order to bring people closer to God to find His will in their lives.
Many of the religious leaders abused the procedure and used it to gain recognition and power. This is where the story begins.
What Did Jesus Really Say about Fasting?
“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting.
Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:16-18 NASB
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What is fasting?
Dictionary.Com-TM describes the word fast as ..
“1. to abstain from all food.
2. to eat only sparingly or of certain kinds of food, esp. as a religious observance. “
Fasting, going without food in order to spend time in prayer — is both noble and difficult. It gives us time to pray, teaches self-discipline, reminds us that we can live with a lot less, and helps us appreciate God’s gifts.
The Right Reasons
Jesus was not condemning the act of fasting, but hypocrisy — doing things in order to gain public approval.
Fasting was mandatory for the Jewish people once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:32).
The Pharisees voluntarily fasted twice a week to impress the people with their ‘holiness.’ But, they were not doing it for the right reasons – only to be seen as religious leaders.
These people, Jesus says; “have received their reward in full.” Christ knew their reasons and taught about it.
Fasting in Secret
Jesus commended acts of self-sacrifice done quietly and sincerely. He wanted people to adopt spiritual disciplines for the right reasons, not from a selfish desire for praise.
Christ says to go about your normal daily routine when you fast. Don’t make a show of it.
Worship vs. Pride
As we have seen through the last few passages of Matthew Jesus is showing how pride can get in our way of true worship.
We met one morning at my church and discussed what people want most out of their work (career).
Surveys show that the majority of workers, when asked, cited recognition for good service and effort as one of the top wants from their superiors.
So, in order to please God, we must sometimes do things that feel “unnatural” to us like abandoning the need for recognition when we do something for God.
– Lord, help us to be more humble. d:-)
Love in Christ
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Read Today’s Bible Verses Here:
New American Standard Bible
New King James Version