Sermon On the Mount: Fasting & Private victory before Public summary

Matthew 6: 16 

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

This is the last of three lessons on a Private Victory before Public Victory. As we look at this passage lets consider the connection of the three different ways Jesus spurs us to see clearly in this world how follow God in a way that does NOT put on a show for others.

There is a tremendously strong worldly pull (like gravity) to seek the approval of those around us:

The three passages demonstrate Hebrew parallelism focused on a main theme:

6:1 be careful not to practice righteousness in front of others - look for a reward from God

When you give - 6:2

  • Do not Announce it - (to be honored by others)

  • Do not let the left hand know what the right hand does

    • i.e don't let the awareness of how your giving will be perceived influence your giving.

  • Your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you

When you pray - 6:5

  • Don't be Seen by others - (to be seen and admired by others)

  • Go to private places to pray where others don't see but your father does

  • And your Father will reward you

When you fast - 6:16

  • Dont look somber - (to show others and be admired by other)

  • Dont make it obvious to others but only to your father

  • Who sees what is done in secret and rewards you

  • Not obvious to others

  • As long as they approve of me then I will approve of me,

  • We are tempted to wear a different mask depending on where we are and the situation we are in, thinking "if people knew what I was actually like they wouldn't like me."


Jesus gives us another way:

Our father rewards us what we do in private

What are some situations we ourselves experience this today?

  • What moments in these situations tempt us the most

What about these situations are so hard?

What is needed for us to be able to live as Jesus described?

Regarding Matt. 6:16 Jesus said 'When we fast....' not IF, but when, therefore Let's fast privately from wearing different mask 'acting'. here are some scriptures that talk about how the first century church talked these issues:

Optional Read:

  • John 12:42-43 - They believed Jesus but preferred the praise of their peers vs that of God

  • Galatians 1:10 - If we want the approval of man we wont be able to please God

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:3-8 - Pure motives lead to an authentic caring for people.