FASTING TO BE SEEN
UNSEEN SECRET DEVOTIONS
SUNDAY JUNE 30, 2019
Scripture To Consider:
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”
“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.” Matthew 6.16-18
Something To Consider:
Jewish fasting was observed in various degrees of strictness. Some customary fasting rituals were carried out with total abstinence of all food. At other times the diet was restricted to simple or plain foods. In religious circles fasting was frequently displayed as if it were local entertainment with all the hope in the world of attracting as much attention as possible.
In these instances, one often dressed in sackcloth material or tore their clothes while walking in public with ashes on their head and no shoes upon their feet. This type of fasting was generally more for the broadcasting of one’s desire to be noticed and thought of as religious. This kind of boastful fasting, Jesus declared, was of little value, as was their reward.
David, the king of Israel, in 1 Samuel 13.14, and also verified in the New Testament in Acts 13.22, revealed that David was a man after God’s own heart, who did God’s will. And David was a man given to fasting. In 2 Samuel 12.16, David fasted over his dying child. In Psalm 35.13, David fasted for his enemies when they were sick even though they rewarded him evil for good.
It appears David, writing in Psalm 69, even as a man after God’s own heart prayed, while being hated by his enemies and haunted by his having no human to comfort him in his isolation due to his serving God! And again, in Psalm 109 David became desperate in declaring to God in prayer, “Do not keep silent, O God of my praise! For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful have opened against me; they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.”
David continued his private prayerful petition to God by further stating; “They have also surrounded me with words of hatred and fought against me without a cause.” And in verse 24 of the same Psalm David acknowledged to God; “My knees are weak through fasting, and my flesh is feeble from lack of fatness.” Yes, David was a man after God’s own heart, but he was also a man accustomed to private personal prayer, unseen secret devotions, and fasting.
Something Else To Consider:
In our Scripture to consider, Jesus encourages our fasting to be from a pure heart and a pure motive, free from evil intentions. “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting.” His admonition to us is that when we fast, not if we fast, that we do so in a way that does not attract undue attention. And there is where the real dilemma lies!
Human nature often demands attention, even at great cost and harm to personal relationships. For without the Spirit of God controlling our longing and lusting for attention, there is no end to what we will do or say to be noticed. And leaders as well as leaders in training are not exempt from this evil temptation. Fasting on a regular basis helps in maintaining a proper perspective when it comes to longing and lusting after undue attention and other evil human tendencies.
Hungering for human attention is an undesirable evil fruit of our flesh. It is a fight that we even as true born-again Christians ever struggle with, and yet there is hope. And along with hope there is victory to be claimed in the spiritual battle that continues on a daily basis between our human flesh and the Holy Spirit of God living within us. And there is much hope and encouragement to be found if sought after within the pages of God’s Word.
The apostle Paul came to our rescue by reminding us in Romans 8; “For those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Paul, who walked long and hard in the flesh before his conversion to Christianity, also reminds us that as new creations in Christ we now have the power and persuasion within us to both walk and to live according to the Spirit of God.
Therefore, when we fast, we must do so not to be seen by others as fasting, but rather as unto God in secret, as an offering unto Him unseen by the world. Therefore, which will it be? Will we be found by God fasting to be seen by the world? Or will we be found by God fasting as if an unseen secret devotion?
Something More To Consider:
Jesus, in our Scripture to consider, instructed; “Moreover, when you fast…” He did not suggest if we fast, but when we fast. Fasting is a part of the true Christian life according to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. How often, how long, and from what things we fast, is between us and our God as if it is an unseen secret devotion.
As we search the Scriptures, we find men such as Moses, Elijah, Zechariah, and the apostle Paul, as men who regularly practiced fasting. Fasting is essential in combating the spiritual warfare between our flesh, the enemy, and our own soul. One day in the life and ministry of Jesus and His disciples, a man brought his son to Jesus’ disciples because his son would often fall into the fire and into the water uncontrollably. So, the father wisely took his son to Jesus!
Jesus rebuked the demon within this man’s son and the demon came out and the child was healed from that very hour. Later Jesus’ disciples came to Him privately and asked, “Why could we not cast it [the demon] out?” And in verse 20 of Matthew chapter 17, Jesus acknowledged, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, [and unto every generation of believers since] if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain [obstacle] ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
A Few Final Words:
And yet, Jesus ended His remarks concerning the casting out of the demon and mountain moving faith, by explaining in verse 21 of Matthew 17; “However, this kind [of demonic influence and spiritual warfare] does not go out except by prayer [personal private prayer] and fasting [fasting to be seen as unseen secret devotions].”
Therefore, when you and I fast, let us not be as the hypocritical religious leaders of Jesus’ day, or as the hypocritical religious leaders of our 21st century possible end times latter days. Rather, let us heed the warnings of Jesus in our Scripture to consider today, and appear unto men not to be fasting when indeed we are fasting. And how wonderfully gracious is our heavenly Father, according to Jesus, who rewards us!
For according to Jesus, “And your Father [God] who sees in secret will reward you openly.” In other words, fasting for the true enduring to the end Christian, is not about being seen by others, but about being seen by God as a willing vessel poured out in unseen by other human eyes secret devotion.
Our Father in heaven, lead us Lord according to Your Spirit in the newness of new life in Jesus Christ. And keep our motives pure and holy all the days of our lives. In Him Always, Amen!