Not so Fast

Did you know you can get a reward from God?  Jesus told us how.  Three times, Jesus said “…your Father Who sees in secret will reward you.”. The first time, He was talking about giving to the poor.  The second time, He was teaching how to pray.  Once more, while teaching about fasting, Jesus explains how to be rewarded by “your Father”. 

“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. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 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.  (Matthew 6:16-18 – ESV)

Once again, the point is the same: Do not try to impress people with your devotion to God; keep it private, between you and God.  Generosity, prayer and fasting are all expressions of a deep rrelationship with “your Father”.  When you use them to show others how religious you are, how good you are, they have the opposite effect.  They show people your pride and hypocrisy and they diminish your relationship with God.

Fasting does not earn us any points with God, it simply clears away the clutter and distraction so we can commune with Him more fully.  There are times, when you sit down to talk with someone, that it is natural to do it over a casual lunch.  There are other circumstances when lunch would simply get in the way: you just need to be together and talk.  It’s times like that with your Father that Jesus says are just for the two of you.  Don’t ruin them by using them as an occasion to show off to people. What is the reward? That too is just between you and your Father, but you can be sure that it is primarily the relationship itself.

This is radical stuff!  People almost always picture God as a distant and demanding figure.  Jesus says He is your Father and desires a relationship with you that is intimate and genuine. 

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