3.23.21 – Daily Dose of Worship. A study on Matthew. Part 53. Sincerity.

Matthew 6:17 says this: “But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.”

Seems pretty basic. Pretty standard, right? Wash your face, comb your hair. Look presentable. But, let’s dig a little deeper into the meaning behind this.

Jesus has again called out some of Israel’s religious leaders as hypocrites. Many of their religious practices are merely performances to earn the praise of other people (Matthew 6:1–5). This time, the worship practice is fasting: abstaining from something, usually food, in order to focus on worship, prayer, or confession to God. To make sure everyone knows they are fasting, these men would walk around looking “gloomy” and twisting up their faces in some way. Since all they care about is the praise of others, that is all their fasting will get for them (Matthew 6:16).

Jesus is not condemning fasting. It was commanded in the law of Moses (Leviticus 23:27–32). His earliest disciples and followers were primarily observant Jewish people. Christ assumes they will participate in the worshipful practice of fasting. Many Christians continue to practice fasting as part of genuine worship, confession, and making requests of God.

What Christ is condemning is fasting that’s insincere. In chapter 5, Jesus gave many examples which showed that inner thoughts and attitudes could be sins, as much as words and actions. Here, he continues to show that even good actions cannot be truly righteous unless they come from pure motives. Jesus said it matters how we worship, however.

So, when a believer chooses to fast, they should do it without announcing it. That doesn’t mean no one, at all, can know. It simply means Christians shouldn’t advertise their fast. The Pharisees apparently skipped their normal grooming on days when they would fast. They didn’t wash their faces or put the normal oil on their heads. They were making a show out of their fast, so other people would see how much they were suffering.

Jesus tells His followers not to put on those artificial signs—to not deliberately call attention to their fasting. Fasting should not be motivated by the praise of other people.

Seems like this could be a general rule for all that we do for the Kingdom. It’s not about who knows, it’s about God knowing. God knowing our true heart and true motive and desires. God knowing why we are following Him.

11 Comments

  1. Margaret K on March 23, 2021 at 6:32 am

    We can go deeper than that and ask God to show us our motives. Are we doing the right thing for the wrong motives? Often we are not aware of the real reason we are doing things. Often we are deceived.

    Are we following Jesus because we love Him and are thankful for the salvation He paid for, or are we following Him because we’re afraid of hell?

    Do we volunteer to be a blessing, or so that people will see “how good we are”?

    The list goes on. Today I’m asking God to show me my true motives; so that I do the right things for the right reasons.

    • Diane Christine Johnson on March 23, 2021 at 7:15 am

      Real Food for thought Thanks for sharing
      God Bless

      • Dave Pettigrew on March 23, 2021 at 2:00 pm

        Your welcome Diane. Thanks for being a member here. So glad to have you with us!

    • Dave Pettigrew on March 23, 2021 at 2:01 pm

      So true. So many times we think we’re doing the right thing for the right reasons and yet when examined a little closer…the ugly truth rears it’s head.

  2. Peggy F on March 23, 2021 at 9:42 am

    It really does go to the “heart of the matter” ! Keeping our ” motives” pure, and even, and especially when doing ” good” for the kingdom ! Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” ! Always brings me back to , asking God to examine, search, and test ” my heart”. !!!!!!

    • Greg Schoenberger on March 23, 2021 at 1:05 pm

      When we can do something to promote the kingdom of God and do it anonymously, then God gets the Glory instead of us. Lord, humble me so I will have the desire to do things for the kingdom and not need the praise for doing God’s work

      • Dave Pettigrew on March 23, 2021 at 1:59 pm

        Amen Greg. So true. “So God gets the glory, not us….” – yes please!

      • Suzanne R on March 23, 2021 at 7:56 pm

        Amen !!

    • Dave Pettigrew on March 23, 2021 at 2:00 pm

      Amen Peggy!

  3. Patti S on March 23, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    I just took myself out for a walk………………………………

    One of the songs on my playlist is, ‘Oh Lord You’re Beautiful”.
    Never heard it til Dave sang it.

    The line that always stands out to me is,

    And when I’m doing well
    Help me to never seek a crown
    For my reward is giving glory to You.

    May I strive to live this way.

    Because of Him

  4. Sherri H on March 26, 2021 at 12:37 am

    Seems like this could be a general rule for all that we do for the Kingdom. It’s not about who knows, it’s about God knowing. God knowing our true heart and true motive and desires. God knowing why we are following Him—-love this paragraph—–amen

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