Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Matthew, Chapter 6, verses 16-18.
I remember when I was little, the neighbor kids and I would gloat in front of others by saying things like, “Ha, ha, ha. I have a new bike and you don’t!” These statements were to bring about the envy of some and the admiration of others. Well, as Christians, we are tempted to “show off” for the very same reasons.
I realized through this passage that God doesn’t want me to be a martyr, getting the attention of others when I fast or do things for Him. That draws too much attention to me. There’s the possibility that I might get caught up in trying to be a “Show off Christian” so others will see how pious I am.
I fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, because it’s my way of trying to focus on all the suffering Jesus went through for us. When I fast, I need to make sure not to draw undue attention to myself. That’s exactly what would happen if I sat with others at work and made it very apparent that I wasn’t eating anything. Now I develop a plan to do it in a manner that doesn’t let anyone else know what I’m doing.
The feeling I get when we read the Bible is that anything we do for God should be done privately. Drawing attention to ourselves and what we are doing for Him is counterproductive. It takes away from our gesture for God and should be done out of pure love and not for the attention we can milk out of it!
Because this is an example of how I’ve applied this Bible passage to my life, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the whole meaning of the passage.