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Week 1 - Focus on God | Day 5 - What's My Motive?

SCRIPTURE - Matthew 6:16-18

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. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.


In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is challenging a common way that some attention-seeking people fast. The formal definition of a biblical fast is full abstinence from food, so only water. Many church leaders in that day who routinely fasted made sure their family, friends, and co-workers knew they were fasting by looking miserable and probably complaining about how hungry they were. (We don’t recommend that you do that.) Jesus says that flaunting your fasting gets you no reward greater than possibly the empty admiration of a few people around you.


Wait, so we are supposed to keep our fast a secret? If so, why are we talking about it together all the time? Many fasts in the Bible were corporately done with others for the sake of strengthening the community. Here's the real question Jesus is poking at: what's your motivation for the fast? Is any part of you seeking admiration from others because of it? Are you focusing too much on the discomfort you're experiencing instead of the reason for it? Ask God to help you have pure motives: to deprive yourself of worldly comforts and to draw closer to Him.


Today, be honest with yourself about whether there's any impure motive in your heart for fasting. The reality is, if you aren’t doing this for the right reason, then you won't get everything God has for you from it. 

"God, show me if there's any pride, ambition, or self-centeredness in my heart as I continue this fast. Keep my heart grounded in wanting to honor you, focus on you, and believe in the work you want to do in me through this. In Jesus' name, amen."


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