Thursday, June 6, 2013

"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. 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).

IDEA: Why we fast will determine how we fast.

PURPOSE: To help Christians consider why we do acts of devotion like fasting.

Do you think that many Christians give financially to help the needy?

Do you think that many Christians pray?

Do you think that many people fast?

I. Why does anyone fast?

Sometimes we want to show God how sincere we are about some concern we have. We are willing to make ourselves "uncomfortable."

It seems like a spiritual discipline that we should cultivate. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus assumes that people in His audience fast.

Fasting can grow out of a deep spiritual concern that regards food as a secondary issue.

Some might fast to show off how devout they are compared to other Christians.

II. Why does Jesus warn Christians who fast to avoid the appearance of fasting in Matthew 6:16-18?

Rather than symbolizing remorse and sorrow, Christians were to "freshen up" by anointing their head with oil and washing their faces.

These were standard practices of personal hygiene. Jesus is saying that if we fast, we are to make every effort to appear as normal as possible. How important is that? Why?