“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
The hypocrite wants other people to see that they are fasting. They want others to be impressed by their sacrifice and commitment to God. They want others to realise how hard it is so they disfigure their faces, making sure it looks difficult. Their fast is for the benefit of others and the focus of their fast is themselves.
Am I a hypocrite? Do I need others to realise what a sacrifice I’m making by doing a certain activity. Am I making sure everyone knows that I’ve put myself out? Would I be willing to do this if no one else ever knows about it?
If I am a hypocrite when it comes to fasting, or any spiritual discipline, or any sacrifice that I am making, I don’t need to just grit my teeth and keep quiet about it in begrudging obedience. I need to think about the One who sacrificed himself for me. The One who gave up everything for me, when I deserve nothing. When that truth comes alive in my heart, I no longer feel the need to impress people with my sacrifices because they don’t seem like big sacrifices any more.