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Beware of religious showmanship in fasting!

Rev Enoch Thompson | FEBRUARY 17, 2023 | MATTHEW 6:16-18


"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. Matthew 6:16 (NIV)


As we observed in the earlier discussion of prayer we see once again that the Lord Jesus Christ is opposed to the public display of our religious observances. Fasting is presumed by the Lord as a useful exercise for His followers after His ascension (Matthew 9:15).

Fasting goes along with our prayers to show that we renounce every reliance on the flesh and rely totally on the hand of God. Prayer with fasting is a message of self-humiliation so that God may be exalted in whatever matters we are praying about. In fasting, we deny ourselves of legitimate physical God-given pleasure so that we may focus on our transactions with God.

Cornelius in his search for God fasted, (Acts 10:30), and was recognized by God for salvation. Godly people of old fasted; Anna (Luke 2:37), and the early Church (Acts 13; 14:23). Fasting is a good practice, but the reason for which the Pharisees did it was to be seen by people and applauded by them. This was what the Lord considered wrong and spoke against.

The lesson is simple; do not make a public show of your fasting. In that case, you receive your reward when people applaud you, and you are to expect no blessing from God.

Anything we do to attract the attention of people does not win the approval of God. When people praise us because we covet and work towards that praise, we have earned our rewards with humans and lost our reward from the One who can really reward us.

What other things do we do to earn human praise? The display of our talents and spiritual gifts, the levels and amounts we contribute to the finances of the Church, the positions we occupy and the titles we are given. What else?


Let’s search our hearts to be sure why we do what we do, how we do it, when we do it, and where we do it. Any discovery of vain glory must drive us to our knees in tears and repentance. Let’s pray for the right heart attitude for all our religious activities.


Lord, I am prone to seek the praise of people, as if that matters at all. Lord Jesus Christ, your fame spread throughout Israel and into the neighbouring regions, but you were not bent on human praise at all. Please help me and my fellow Christians to seek to please you alone, and not seek the praise of humans. For your dear Name’s sake, Amen.



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