Verse of the Day – Matthew 6:17-18
“But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 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.”

Daily Scripture Reading1 Corinthians 8

Devotional Thoughts

Matthew 6:17-18 – But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 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.

Jesus just taught us how NOT to fast. We are to avoid the tactics of the hypocrites. The hypocrites did everything in their power to be seen and praised by other people in their supposed spiritual service to God. They thought that if others thought they were spiritual, then they must indeed be spiritual!

Now Jesus is teaching us how to fast. When we fast we are to anoint our head and wash our face – to remove any indication whatsoever that we are denying our bodies for our spiritual benefit. The term for anointing the head refers to using scented oil to groom our hair. They would use this perfumed oil to help comb their hair and to smell good. Unlike the hypocrites who would wear old clothes and mess their hair up as if to say that their fasting had caused a bad nights sleep, we are to look our very best!

When we fast we are denying the flesh but that doesn’t mean we have to look like we our flesh is being denied. As a matter of fact, if we claim to be denying the flesh and yet make a big deal out of how much our flesh is suffering then in reality we are catering to the very flesh we are professing to deny! We are promoting our pride and letting our flesh get the better of us.

Jesus goes on to tell us that we are to fast in secret. Don’t announce it to the world, or to church as that is pride. It is to be between us and God, in secret. It is not to be displayed for anyone. When He sees us fasting in secret and knows our motive and heart attitude, He will never fail to reward our spiritual devotion and discipline!

Now then, if a group of people, like a family or a church, call a fast in order to repent of some sin or to seek His will regarding an important corporate decision, then we can encourage one another in the fast and pray and sing and worship together. There is nothing wrong with corporate fasting unless the fast is for show, to impress others, or even to try to convince God about how “serious” we are about spiritual service. Many times in the Old Testament the whole nation of Israel was called to fast. Other individuals fasted when praying or interceding for the nation or for individuals. But the fast, even if used in the process of grieving, is to be done in a manner that does not draw attention to the one fasting but instead glorifies God. Whatever we do, whether it is prayer, giving, or fasting, we do it to God, not for ourselves or even for others!

A good way to look at our spiritual service to God is to think about our church services. When we sing, we sing to God, right? We pray to God, we give to God, and we worship God! Or at least that is what we claim. Jesus is saying that we must endeavor in whatever our spiritual pursuit to focus the attention and glory on God. We should not give so that others can see what we give. We should not boast about our worship. We should not praise or pray for the benefit of other people in the vicinity! We sing to God. We pray to Him. We don’t pray to the congregation! Our worship of God is not an entertaining show for others to watch. It is to be our heartfelt thanksgiving and praise and worship to the One who made us and loves us enough to have sent His Son to die in our place. It is indeed all about Him. All things that were created (EVERYTHING), including YOU, were created by Him and for Him. We must please Him and Him alone.(Colossians 1:13-18)

The benefit to pleasing God is that in doing so we will enjoy fellowship with other believers and we will know His love more and more every day! Whatever you do today – think of Him! And if He calls you to fast, obey. In your heart surrender yourself to deny your flesh and encourage your spirit with the Word, fellowship, communion with God, and praise to our LORD Jesus Christ.

Bible Reading For Further Study
Reasons to Fast:
Food for your spirit – Psalm 19:8-11; 119:12, 16
Acts of Worship/Prayer – Ps.29:2; 66:4; 5:6-7; Is. 45:20-22; Jer 29:12-13
Sin – Psalm 32:5-7; 38:18
Thanksgiving – Psalm 92:1-4; 106:1-2; 140:13

Recommended Songs for Worship
Rejoice, the Lord is King
Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken