Passage: Matthew 6:16-18 [Link-NKJV]
Mat 6:16 "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.
Mat 6:17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.
Mat 6:18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. [NLT]
Are you concerned with your outward appearance? Asking myself this question I have to say that I am concerned with it too much. I spend a lot of my day worrying about what other people think of me and not nearly enough time worrying about what God thinks of me. Often it is easy to just say "Jesus loves me" and forget that he also wants me to be more like him, and to trust Him more.
In this passage He is not showing a concern with the doing of a good work (fasting in this case) but He is showing concern for the state of heart or the reason that the good work is being done. All outward show, all pomp and circumstance, all ritual and worldly favor mean nothing in the sight of God. God is concerned only with the state of the heart. Jesus was dealing with a problem that we face today in our churches. We do so much in order to please men...build bigger fancier churches, offer more personal services, brag about the size of our church, make beautiful music to be enjoyed and purchased by men, dress to impress at church, amaze our friends with our deep understanding of the bible, say flowery prayers with all the right words, kneel during prayer physically while the heart never even gets close to the ground, get upset when things aren't just the way we want them at church, or even brag of our good deeds to others by putting our name out there for all to see when we should be praising the only source of anything good or righteous. God sees the heart and that is what He is wanting from us, our heart...
Any of the things listed above can be done for the right reasons too. They will be manifested in a totally different way if they are done with Jesus (in the heart) as the source. They will produce more good fruit. For instance, if God has given you the gift of music and you go out and make a recording. You then sell it and make a lot of money...do you increase your own worldly standing (fancier cars, bigger homes, etc) or do you give God the credit and also the reward?
Recently I had a spam email come to my attention. It was singing the praises of the gentleman, Rick Warren, who had written the very popular book "A Purpose Driven Church". Now, I don't know this mans heart, only God does, so I am using this as an example...not a judgement. In this email Rick was explaining how God had done wonderful things in his life. How he had blessed him with riches and given him a deeper understanding of what was really important. It all sounded very "good" and very "righteous"...but...the point of the email was for us to see the humbleness of Rick Warren and to see that he was not going to blow all the money but give it back to God. The email wanted us to see that Rick was a true man of God who would surely not personally benefit from his new found wealth. Again I say that I don't know this man's heart so I am using this as an example. It just seemed to me that the real point of the email was to ensure the reader that Rick Warren was a really great guy...not that God was a great God. It intended for us to see or notice the good deeds of Rick, and not God.
Do all that you do for Christ...let every action be for Him and Him alone. NOT as a way to gain salvation but because you have given Him your heart and now it can do nothing less than what He wants it to do.
Dear Father in Heaven,
Even this silly little blog of mine can seem to be a selfish indulgence sometimes. Lord, I pray earnestly that you will always use anything that I do to your glory. I don't want to spend my days caring only for myself. Please Lord, fill me with YOU so that there is no room for me. This is the deep desire of my heart...please take that desire out of the depths and make it fill all of my heart. I don't want to be two faced anymore...I want to be all for You. I ask this in the name of Jesus, who died so that I could have the right to ask it. Amen.