In today's study from Matthew 6:16-23, our Lord discusses some practical spiritual matters in regards to fasting, giving, and looking.
Practical Spiritual Matters
Practical Spiritual Matters
vv.16-23 “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. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 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. 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
In this passage, Jesus gave his Jewish disciples instructions on some practical spiritual matters. He teaches them on fasting (vv.16-18), giving (vv.19-21), and looking (vv.22-23). It boils down to the fact that there is spiritual help in what you don’t eat, what you don’t keep, and what you don’t seek.
What You Don’t Eat (Fasting)
First, Jesus deals with what you don’t eat in fasting. The first thing that we see is that fasting is not to be done for appearances. Ephesians 6:6-7 “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:”
Lent is a prime example of fasting for appearance. Everybody does it at the same time, it begins with black ashes displayed on the forehead so that the whole world will see that their “giving up something for God.” The bottom line is that while fasting, the appearance should be normal and between you and God according to the words of our Lord.
Is Fasting for Today?
I believe so. 1. Jesus said so. He said in Matthew 9:15, “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” The apostles did it. We find in Acts 13:2-3, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Paul also did it because he said in 2 Corinthians 11:27, “In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” Understand that fasting is not to align God’s will with ours but ours to His.
In spite of all of this, it is a discipline that is often neglected by American Christians. It’s interesting that Physiologists tells us that when there is no food in the stomach, there is greater blood flow to the brain. You can actually think clearer when you're not digesting burgers and fries. Imagine that! That’s not hard to believe because when I get full the conversation is over! Once you overcome those first pangs of hunger, your’ thinking processes are more focused and clearer than ever. On the other hand, if you have two Whoppers and a couple of shakes, all you want to do is sleep! Amen?
What You Don’t Keep (Giving)
vv.19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: (20) But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: (21) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Second, Jesus deals with what you don’t keep in giving. The major problem with money is the accumulation of it and not the money itself. Our Lord said in Luke 12:15, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Also, the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 5:10, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver.”
We are constantly warned in Scripture that wealth accumulated here will rust, get eaten, decay, or get stolen. Job 1:21 Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither. So, the only way to keep it is to give it (v.20). Treasures in heaven are only laid up as treasures on earth are laid down. In other words, when you lay it down, you send it ahead.
Rich Young Ruler
Notice what Jesus said to the rich young ruler. Matthew 19:21, "Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." In the parable of the pounds, the Lord showed us that the man who made the ten pounds in service to the Lord got to keep it and got more. Luke 19:24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
It’s a Heart Problem
You can tell a lot about your heart by how you give (v. 21). If your treasure is in the earth, your heart will be worldly. The Bible says in James 4:4, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” If your treasure is in heaven, your heart will be godly. Paul said in Philippians 3:19-20, “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” George Truett said, “If you’re not right with God in your giving, you’re not right with God in any area of your life.”
What You Don’t Seek (Looking)
vv.22-23 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. (23) But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
Third, Jesus deals with what you don’t seek in looking. In this section, the Lord’s admonition is to keep the eye single (clear focused). Jesus kept His eyes clearly focused while He was here on this earth in three ways.
1. He was blind and deaf to anything ungodly. The prophet said in Isaiah 42:19-20, “Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD's servant? Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.”
2. He did not judge with his eyes and ears. The prophets also said in Isaiah 11:3, “And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:” In other words, He looked deeper than just words and actions. He looked at the heart. The Psalmist said in Psalms 44:21, “Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.”
3. He did those things that were pleasing to God. In the Gospel of John it says in John 8:28-29, “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” In like manner, we are to serve the Lord. Paul told the Colossians in 3:22-24, “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” The simplest way to keep your eye single is to keep your eyes on Jesus and in his Word. The Bible says in Psalms 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."