Yeshua said this about the Pharisees in Matthew 6:16:
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
How this bible quote fits into the rather terse topic is simple: it all comes down to what we do and not what we say. I’ve learned (you’ve heard me say this plenty of times, already) that people don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do. And when you add to that old adage the worn-out cliche about not just talking the talk but walking the walk, the lesson about living our lives as we are told to do becomes so repetitive that we just don’t pay attention anymore.
It’s like when you get a small paper cut. It really huts when you get it, but then your brain adjusts to the neural stimuli and becomes ennured to the pain. Then, after a while, you do something like hit the exact spot where the cut is, or maybe get lemon juice in it, or after shave, and WOWSAH!! You remember you have a paper cut, in a big way.
We need to keep pouring lemon juice on where the holes would be if we had been the ones nailed to the tree. We need to constantly remind ourselves, but in different ways so we don’t become callous, that we need to live out our everyday existence in a way that glorifies God, that lets people see His spirit-led change of attitude, and His grace, His love and His compassionate forgiveness.
In Judaism we say that when we look at the Torah we should see a reflection of ourself. So, nu? What do you see when you look at the Torah (Bible)? Do you see a bunch of fancy words that sound nice or do you see yourself?
What the statement Yeshua said (above) means is that we should not try to win the favor and respect of other people by making a show of our “holiness”, because even if we win their respect and favor, that is all we will get. The purpose of fasting is to get closer to God, to motivate Him to answer our prayers by demonstrating our desire for His help through self-sacrifice. If we really want people to see us and think of how “holy” we are, God will let us have that reward. And what He could have given us will be lost to us; God will step aside and let us have the reward we sought, which is not the reward we could have gotten from Him if we had really been looking to Him for acceptance.
No matter what you give up when you fast, the point is that it is to be between you and God- as Yeshua said (just before this verse) in Matthew 6:3, when giving to the poor (let’s expand that to doing any form of Tzedakah, or charity) that it should be done in secret, so that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. This is the same as when we fast: both charity and fasting should be done in secret.
It all boils down to live you life, every day, getting closer to God, and do it in such a way that you will not need to profess your beliefs because your actions will demonstrate your beliefs.
The greatest compliment I ever received is when I have had someone say me, ” You’re born again, aren’t you?” I am embarrassed to confess it has been so long since this happened I can’t remember the last time it did.
If you have to tell someone you are a Believer, you need to work at it harder.