16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 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.
Fast in Secret
As a Christian teen, I am thinking that this subject is about as far removed from your normal way of life that it may be hard to conceptualize. However, whether or not we fast, unfortunately, we all have the desire to be noticed and affirmed by our peers--especially our Christian peers.
There is no doubt that the Lord Jesus certainly understands our natures when He said, "When you fast, do it secretly!" He so understands our propensity to declare our godliness loudly, so that all may understand how very spiritual we are!
All too often we are just like the pharisees. After all, what good was it to go to all the discomfort of fasting if no one knew what you were doing. Rather, they would go about revealing their great distress at how uncomfortable it was to fast, so that everyone would understand how godly they were.
Christ was not impressed! Neither is He impressed at our tendency to display our great spirituality before others. If we are memorizing Scripture, we want to tell everyone. If we read and study our Bibles every day, we want to make sure that all of our Christian friends know what we are doing. And if we actually take the time to fast, which is extremely rare in our day, we most certainly want our Christian friends to know what a great sacrifice we are making for God.
Just as the world has its heros and giants, so, too, do we want to be known among our Christian friends as giants of the faith!
Again and again, from the words of Christ, we understand that Christianity is not about outward displays of our character, but rather, Christianity is a religion of the heart. In our heart of hearts, before God Himself, where do we stand? Is God impressed with our spirituality? Is God impressed with the amount of time we spend studying His Word or praying to Him? In the end, that is all that matters!
As a Christian mother, one of my greatest goals was to impress upon my children that it was not my approval they needed. They needed to live every moment understanding that Jesus was right there beside them. If their actions pleased Him, then they did not have to worry about whether I would be pleased or not. It was not my approval, but rather God's approval they needed to gain.
Though it is good to please your parents in the Lord, it is better to realize that it is God you must please. There is much you can keep from your parents, but nothing is kept from God. He knows even the very thoughts and intents of our hearts!
How different might our Christian influence be on those around us if all believers took these words to heart. We do not serve God so that those around us will be impressed. We serve God because we love Him so very much that we want to please and obey Him in all we do!
That is the very message that the Pharisees missed. They were ever so concerned about what the people thought of them, but they flagrantly ignored the words of Jesus. His very life and testimony was a slap in their face. They did not want a servant in their Messiah--they only wanted a civil king who would overthrow Rome and put them in the seat of power.
May we, as the Christian teens, turn our hearts and minds to Christ. Let us pray that He will give us the strength and power to ignore the attitudes and pressures of this world and seek only to serve and obey Him. Just as Christ has given so much to us, may we turn our hearts in complete submission and service to Him!
Let us fast in secret that we may gain the eternal rewards of God our Father!
God Bless You,