“But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others…” Matthew [6:18]
Have you ever been around someone who is fasting?
It’s not a lot of fun for anyone! Certainly, it’s tough for the person who’s fasting because they’re dealing with genuine hunger. But let’s not forget about the challenge fasting can be for the friend of the one who’s fasting. This is the person who’s forced to listen to the struggle and the sacrifices of the one who’s fasting.
In my experience, I’m not sure which one is more difficult?
Of course, the actual discipline of giving up food as a way to cleanse the mind, body, and soul, and to put into practice an utter dependence upon God is difficult. (Likely, this is why so few people practice this spiritual discipline today.) But the friend who walks alongside the one fasting has it tough, too. Because so often when we make sacrifices for God—we want everyone to know the cost we paid. We yearn to have others see our commitment to God. We long for others to recognize and respect the depth of our faith.
Jesus understood the human heart’s desire to crave recognition. That’s why he advised his followers to anoint their head with oil and to keep their face clean during fasting. This assured that the faster would be able to conduct their spiritual discipline without drawing attention to themselves.
Jesus loves a heart that will make sacrifices to worship Him. Conversely, he’s not impressed with our efforts to get others to worship us.
Lord, give me a humble heart in all the ways that I practice my faith. May my actions be with a pure heart, rather than desire to glorify myself. Amen.