The Gospel of Matthew

This devotional is written by Charlotte Speller. Charlotte has been a member of St Mary's for 3 years now and misses seeing everyone in person! Her biggest lockdown achievement is going a year without having a haircut #longhairdontcare 

Matthew 6:16-24

Fasting

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.

Treasures in Heaven 19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[a] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[b] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Reflection

Fasting in biblical times meant abstaining from food mainly and sometimes drink as well for a short period of time. Today, people fast anything that may distract us from God, in order to seek Him in a situation or keep us on track. If I'm being honest fasting is difficult, but as it's self-sacrificing, it's not meant to be easy! It provides a space for us to focus on God and hear his voice around those times we would usually eat, or spend time on the internet, or whatever you're fasting. It demonstrates sincerity to seek God in a situation and provides a conscious effort to hear His voice. It teaches us self-discipline and reminds us that we can live without a lot less than we realise and God is there to fill that space. In Biblical times, fasting was mandatory for Jewish people, once a year on the Day of Atonement (Lev 23:32). The Pharisees voluntarily fasted twice a week to impress people with their 'holiness', however Jesus commended acts of self-sacrifice when done humbly and authentically. The mention of olive oil referred to its common use as a lotion at the time, so Jesus was advising them to go about their daily routine without showing off to people. Tim Keller once said "humility is not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less".
In verse 19-21, God is more concerned about the treasure we hold in our hearts than in our pockets. As Christians we strive to be Christlike, but if we aren't purposeful in our walk with Jesus we can end up serving more than one master. One of which is mentioned in verse 24 - money. The love of money is a dangerous thing and can hinder our spiritual walk with God. But we can choose to invest our money wisely - into the Kingdom of God e.g. Churches, charities, those who are more in need etc. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:6-8) which honours God and increases our joy in heaven. I've often heard the phrase, put your money where your mouth is, which I try to use to challenge myself with what I invest my money in.


In verse 22, Spiritual vision refers to our ability to see clearly what God wants us to do and see the world from his point of view. It is easy to be taken off course if we're not talking to God each day and listening for his wisdom. Praying to see things through God's eyes prevents us from clouding our perspective and keeps us spiritually healthy.

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