‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Isaiah 58:3-5
“Hypocrisy is a terrible blight on the worship of God. Let us take to heart thee long-term implications for worship in our lives and in our churches. No worship — no preaching, no singing, no praying, no fasting, however intense or beautiful — that leaves us harsh with our workers on Monday, or contentious with our spouses at home, or self-indulgent in other areas of our lives, or angry enough to hit somebody, is true God-pleasing worship. Don’t make a mistake here: true fasting may be a God blessed means of overcoming harshness at work, and contentiousness at home, and self-indulgence once anger. But if fasting ever becomes a religious cloak for minimizing those things and letting them go on and on, then it becomes hypocrisy and offensive to God.”
John Piper in Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013).
The country and the people of Guatemala are so colorful. But fasting if not done with the right heart leads to hypocrisy is anything but beautiful and actually offends God. The same is true for our praying and almsgiving.
As Lent has only begun, let’s pause from giving our attention to Lenten disciplines and look inwardly at our hearts. Father, cleanse us from any wrong attitudes or motives so our fasting, praying, and giving pleases you. Amen.
Today’s a travel day for me. After a morning meeting, I fly from Guatemala City to Houston, and then I get back to Denver this evening. Thank you God for a safe and fruitful trip!