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
I once heard of a man who felt as though God led him to go into topless
bars and strip clubs to witness to the people there. From what I hear, people were saved
as a result. While I think that is great, I must say that there are many men who would not
exactly be cut out for such a job. Most men I know struggle from time to time with lust,
and know that if they think they need to go into a topless club and remain sinless
throughout, they might as well gouge out their eyes at the entrance.
The point is that many of us would not be called to work around an area of which we are
highly susceptible to sin. In fact, we would more than likely be led to take preventative
measures against the possibility of placing ourselves in such a situation. In Romans 13:14
Paul writes, "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the
flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof]."
Jesus knew humanity all too well when he addressed His followers in His sermon on the
mount. He knew that the closer we get to our weaknesses the more likely we are to give in
to them. Matthew 5-7 deals with many temptations that threaten to make us stumble in our
spiritual walk. But Jesus not only addresses the temptations and what happens if we give
in to them, He also provides us with countermeasures to further distance ourselves from
In the passage above, Jesus tells His followers that they are not to fast in a manner as
to draw attention to their righteous acts, so to be seen by men and somehow considered
better by their deeds. Jesus tells them to fast in secret, keeping the righteous act
between the person and God. But He doesn't stop there. He instructs them to go one step
further. "But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That
thou appear not unto men to fast," Jesus explains, and in so doing provides His
followers with counter measures.
The pride from the praise of men is powerfully destructive to the work of the Spirit in
our lives. Jesus not only wants us to avoid calling attention to our acts, He also wants
us to go out of our way to ensure that nothing draws attention to our acts. So doing would
ensure that what is done is done with pure motives, with absolutely no chance of us using
righteous acts as a means for self-glorification.
If you have ever stood at the edge of a high cliff and looked down, (for most of us) it is
not a safe feeling. One wrong move could cause you to slip and fall over. Or have you
noticed that high voltage areas have fences several yards away from the danger, so that
someone does not get too close and get electrocuted. God loves us and does not want us
standing to close to what is dangerous for us. He wants us to remove any chance of harm.
How we do it is to put up the fence several yards away from the danger. That way if you
are harmed it is because you willfully jumped the fence and not because you slipped into a
danger you were not aware of.
What is the sin that besets you? What is the weakness that trips you up over and over
again? You know what it is, and chances are you have already been given instruction by God
as to how to place a fence between you and it. If not, then pray and find out. And once
you know--build the fence.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God
[is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with
the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].1 Corinthians