Best of Daily Reflections: Avoiding a Show of ReligiosityDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
"And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get."
Earlier in this chapter, Jesus warned against giving alms and praying in public for the sake of human adulation. In Matthew 6:16-18, he returns to this theme, now focusing on fasting. Jews in the time of Jesus fasted on numerous occasions, abstaining from food, drink, and other pleasures. No doubt some who fasted made a show of their spirituality for the sake of popular praise. Jesus warns his disciples to avoid making a show of their religiosity. Fasting is fine, if they do so for God's sake.
It's easy for Christians in our day to fall into the "showy religiosity" pit. We put on our happiest face at church, even though our hearts are far from the Lord. Or we look as if we're worshipping with zeal when our minds are wandering. Or we go on a mission trip in order to get adequate recognition. Jesus urges us to reorient our priorities, to reform our motivations. Rather than seeking human applause for our religious actions, we should desire the ovation of heaven. Whether we're worshiping in the gathered church or serving in the world as part of the scattered church, our chief desire should be to honor God.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Are you ever tempted to make a show of your Christian piety? When? Through what actions? Why? What helps you to live for God's glory and pleasure?
PRAYER: Gracious God, in my head I know that pleasing you is best of all. But sometimes it's hard to live for your pleasure when I can't physically see, hear, or touch you. So I'm tempted to live for human affirmation. And sometimes I give into this temptation. Forgive me, Lord, for the times when I make a show of my faith. Put within my heart an unquenchable desire to honor you most of all. May your good pleasure in me be the guiding motivation of my life. And may this be true whether I'm in a worship service, or leading a Bible study, or meeting with my colleagues at work. In all of my life, Lord, be glorified. Amen.