“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” -Matthew 6:16-18
The Bible really does require us to be as humble, kind, and generous as possible, so verses like Matthew 6:16-18 can be hard to grasp. Does God really need to tell us to not flaunt or complain about our good deeds?
Apparently, He does, because they are part of human nature… actions that we have to consciously stop ourselves from doing. To fast for the Lord, who is admittedly unseen to us, and to not tell others about our sacrifices (or how hungry we are), seems so simple, but God knows that He needs to address it.
Another way to look at this verse is to see it as God’s way of telling us that we need to rejoice in even the hard things. So why does anyone fast? It can be seen as a type of revival, according to Joel 2:12.
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” -Joel 2:12
Because fasting is a personal sacrifice, it isn’t something that we need to involve others in. We should be thankful for the personal relationship that we have with God, and if we get a sense of spiritual rejuvenation from something like fasting, then it shouldn’t be done in vain. Sometimes it’s the difficult things in life that make us better.
Do you ever fast? Are spiritual sacrifices hard for you?