Prepare to Listen. In humility, offer this prayer: Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 51:2)
Prayerfully Read Matthew 6:16-21
16‘And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 19‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Fasting, the third spiritual practice Jesus assumes we do, is most often associated with repentance (as in Joel 2:12) and seeking God’s will for our lives. Once again, Jesus expects a practice that is done entirely for God and not for appearances. That’s the only instruction he gives his disciples. There is, therefore, no right or wrong way to fast. What we fast from (food, social media, drink, etc) and how long we fast is neither here nor there, so long as we’re not doing it to gain notice from our fellow humans.
The teaching on charitable giving, prayer and fasting concludes with verses (19-21) that are often taken out of context and thus misunderstood. We assume they have to do with worldly possessions. But it’s more than that. Storing up treasures on earth is related to practicing our acts of piety in full view of people so that they are impressed by our spiritual maturity; hoping to gain ‘brownie points’ from people around us. When we practice in secret, for the sake of God alone, we’re storing up treasure in heaven where it will never wear out or stolen. Where our treasure, there our hearts will be also.
Where do you think your treasure is?
Respond to Jesus
Lord Jesus, as I journey through Lent, may I learn to be more disciplined in giving, prayer and fasting, not to be seen by others, but to store up my treasure in heaven where you will stand guard over it. Amen
Go live obediently by storing up treasure in heaven.
Because I believe that Scripture is food for our soul (our entire being) I seek to read it and encourage others to read it in ways that nourish and transform our beings. I invite you to read the Bible with me during Lent and into Easter. I am a Bible teacher, spiritual companion and retreat director. I know the Bile and how to read it for spiritual formation.