What Jesus Did! 'The Hidden Fast' — Matthew 6:16-18

Monday, March 13, 2017

"When you fast, don't make yourselves look sad. The hypocrites do that. Don't be like the hypocrites. They make their faces look strange to show people that they are fasting. I tell you the truth, those hypocrites already have their full reward. So when you fast, make yourself look nice. Wash your face. Then people will not know that you are fasting. But your Father that you cannot see will see you. Your Father sees the things that are done in secret. And he will reward you."
— Matthew 6:16-18
Illustration of Matthew 6:16-18 — "When you fast, don't make yourselves look sad.

Key Thought

We do not pursue the spiritual disciplines to gain us notoriety and respect. They are of value when we offer them to God and go about our daily routine as if nothing were different, except our character. Our character is to be transformed to be more like our Father in Heaven. A fast to God is not about looking like we're fasting on the outside, but that we're being transformed on the inside. That transformation will show itself over time, and in the meantime, the fruit of fasting will be its own reward.

Today's Prayer

Loving Father, I recognize that every good thing I have comes from you. Thank you for being so generous. I especially enjoy the food you provide for me each day. As I fast, please help me to base that fasting in the thankfulness for all you have done for me and please use it to form in me more of your character than I had yesterday. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Today's Verses in Context

"Be careful! When you do good things, don't do those things in front of people. Don't do those things for people to see you. If you do that, then you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. "When you give to poor people, don't announce that you are giving. Don't do like the hypocrites do. They blow trumpets before they give so that people will see them. They do that in the synagogues and on the streets. They want other people to give honor to them. I tell you the truth. Those hypocrites already have their full reward. So when you give to poor people, give very secretly. Don't let any person know what you are doing. Your giving should be done in secret. Your Father can see the things that are done in secret. And he will reward you. "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites. The hypocrites love to stand in the synagogues and on the street corners and pray loudly. They want people to see them pray. I tell you the truth. They already have their full reward. When you pray, you should go into your room and close the door. Then pray to your Father. He is there in that secret place. Your Father can see the things that are done in secret. And he will reward you. "And when you pray, don't be like those people that don't know God. They continue saying things that mean nothing. Don't pray like that. They think that God will hear them because of the many things they say. Don't be like those people. Your Father knows the things you need before you ask him. So when you pray, you should pray like this: 'Our Father in heaven, we pray that your name will always be kept holy. We pray that your kingdom will come, and that the things you want will be done here on earth, the same as in heaven. Give us the food we need for each day. Forgive the sins we have done, the same as we have forgiven the people that did wrong to us. Don't let us be tempted (tested); but save us from the Evil One (the devil).' Yes, if you forgive other people for the things they do wrong, then your Fatherin heaven will also forgive you for the things you do wrong. But if you don't forgive the wrong things people do to you, then your Father in heaven will not forgive the wrong things you do. "When you fast, don't make yourselves look sad. The hypocrites do that. Don't be like the hypocrites. They make their faces look strange to show people that they are fasting. I tell you the truth, those hypocrites already have their full reward. So when you fast, make yourself look nice. Wash your face. Then people will not know that you are fasting. But your Father that you cannot see will see you. Your Father sees the things that are done in secret. And he will reward you.

Matthew 6:1-18

Related Scripture Readings

"I will tell you the kind of special day I want—a day to make people free. I want a day that you take the burdens off people. I want a day when you make the troubled people free. I want a day when you take the burdens from their shoulders. I want you to share your food with the hungry people. I want you to find poor people that don't have homes, and I want you to bring them into your own homes. When you see a man that has no clothes—give him your clothes! Don't hide {from helping those people}; they are just like you." If you do these things, your light will begin shining like the light of dawn. Then your wounds will heal. Your "Goodness" (God) will walk in front of you, and the Glory of the Lord will come following behind you. Then you will call to the Lord, and the Lord will answer you. You will shout to the Lord, and he will say, "Here I am." You should stop making troubles and burdens for people. You should stop using bitter words and blaming people for things.

Isaiah 58:6-9

Jesus answered, "{When there is a wedding,} the friends of the bridegroom are not sad while he is with them. They cannot fast (be sad) while the bridegroom is still there. But the time will come when the bridegroom will leave them. The friends are sad when the bridegroom leaves. Then they will fast.

Mark 2:19-20

These men were all serving the Lord and fasting. The Holy Spirit said to them, "Give Barnabas and Saul to me to do a special work. I have chosen them to do this work." So the church fasted and prayed. They put their hands on Barnabas and Saul and sent them out.

Acts 13:2-3

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About This Devotional

What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Easy-to-Read Version copyright © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.