16 Ã¢â‚¬Å“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Fasting is Private
Have you ever experienced the Ã¢â‚¬Å“one-upper?Ã¢â‚¬Â This is the person who, for better or worse, always has a better story.Ã‚Â If you shot a 90 on the golf course for the first time, the Ã¢â‚¬Å“one-upperÃ¢â‚¬Â shot his second 89. Growing up, I had one friend in particular who fit into this group. Ã‚Â Often a conversation would go something like this:
(Me) Ã¢â‚¬Å“Man, I had a horrible week!Ã‚Â I failed two tests, got a flat tire, and found out my dream girl has eyes for someone else.Ã¢â‚¬Â (My Friend) Ã¢â‚¬Å“Tell me about it, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m failing every class, got TWOÃ‚Â flat tires, and was dumped by my girlfriend . . . of five years!Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“One-uppersÃ¢â‚¬Â are the people who have done something better, alwaysÃ‚Â have it worst,Ã‚Â or always try to out-do.Ã‚Â Even New Testament times had its share of Ã¢â‚¬Å“one-uppers.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â They were called the Pharisees.Ã‚Â These men loved to show how much Ã¢â‚¬Å“holierÃ¢â‚¬Â they could be and how Ã¢â‚¬Å“rightÃ¢â‚¬Â they were .Ã‚Â Jesus called them snakes. Instead, Christ was quick to point out that fasting, like prayer and giving, is not about looking good before others ; rather, fasting is about how you look, in secret, before God. This is why Jesus said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your father who is in secret.Ã¢â‚¬Â
As we go through this week of fasting, it is important to keep the focus on the root of why we are fasting.Ã‚Â It isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t to Ã¢â‚¬Å“one-upÃ¢â‚¬Â other churches or other believers.Ã‚Â It is to come back to God as the sustenance of our lives.
As you fast today:
Remember why you are fasting.
Ask God for guidance and the discipline to continue
Keep the focus on him and nothing else.