Rev. James Dillon
In Matthew 6 verses 1,5,16 Jesus lays out three fundamentals of life for the believer. Three absolutes of life’s “cords” if woven together cannot be broken. I have seen so many Christians struggle for affirmation in their personal walk with God; corporately we have plenty of faith, friends and validation. This scripture is not given by command but by God imparting understanding of three crucial areas of life.
When You Give:
Don’t give like the hypocrites. Don’t give to be seen of men. This passage is not addressing the expected and required tithes and offerings that are mandated throughout scripture. Jesus is addressing the heart of a believer as he gives out of a heart that should be moved with compassion because of a need instead of an opportunity to look good and appear interested. God never has a problem with spotting a phony. From Genesis to Acts there was a clear thread of people who gave to appear spiritual, God always sees the motive.
When God lays it upon our hearts to minister financially to someone in need, if we fall victim to the world and its selfishness and self glory, we have only rewarded our self. God wants to reward us. He instructs us concerning our attitude and what it takes for Him to bless us for our giving to that which is beyond the expected. Giving is all about a consecrated attitude of the soul that is birthed in prayer and delivered in the spirit of true generosity.
When You Pray:
Don’t pray like the hypocrites. By VINES definition; hypocrites: an actor under an assumed character (stage player). No wonder God could be so disinterested in the prayers of a hypocrite or the giving of a hypocrite; it’s all a staged presentation. It stinks in the nostrils of God. To fake prayer is to fake a relationship with God.
There is a private prayer life, a closet, something out of public view that God is very interested in. A place of personal prayer comes from personal dedication and consecration between you and God. Our prayer life speaks of personal discipline. Our attitude concerning our life and its dependency upon God is not in theory but in daily practicum. David said “Early” will I seek Him; Because we need Him. Prayer is not religious, it’s Relationship with God. If a person feels self satisfied and justified in his life, prayer will be just religious and usually prayed in or during church.
People who do not have a prayer life outside of church will usually enter into a church service with a mixture of confessional prayers and a repented mind set. During their “in church” praying they will be feeling after acceptance. The sounds of religiosity are generated and that is why praise seldom turns into worship. By the time prayerless people get warmed up church is over.
Our prayer life is our symbol of faithfulness to God. When we bring a consecrated Mind, Soul and Body to church the magnificence of God’s presence is assured.
When You Fast:
Again, not as the hypocrites; “the stage players who act out the part of a person fasting.” It’s definitely the much needed third strand of the “cord”, with it we are assured of the much needed security of really knowing God. A right attitude and conscience are made powerful through fasting.
There is a right way to fast and the wrong way to fast. Fasting is a private matter, more personal of the How or What you fast, to how long you fast. If it’s a half day, do it with the right spirit. A David’s fast is from dawn until the sun sets. A Daniel’s fast is limiting your eating to a vegetarian style. Then there is a Total fast, nothing but water. The bible points to many types of fasting.
Basically fasting is cutting out or greatly limiting food, the all American god. Fasting should focus us on withdrawing from as much of the world as possible. I believe during fasting of any kind we should do away with all media, news, talk shows, electronic games, shopping for pleasure, in its place should be much time spent with God.
God will see your sacrifice … But, God will not call something a sacrifice if it’s NOT. God has been watching fake sacrifices for as long as there have been men on the earth. Someone is always trying to pull one over on God. Israel was fasting and God was not paying attention to them because they were fasting with sin in their lives.
Fasting with the right attitude is the difference between dieting and drawing closer to God. Fasting de-thrones the world in our life. In fact, Adam and Eve ate themselves out of the will of God and the promises of God. Fast food is the world’s way; it has killed the family table and the good family communication that is much needed today.
When you fast it denies your flesh what it is accustomed to. We need to become more accustomed to God than ever before. We need to fast until worldly customs have been changed. Depression, Hypertension, Negative Attitudes and Tormented Sorrow all magnify the custom of worldly living and lifestyles outside of God’s will.
Fasting will magnify God and not our problems. To magnify something does not make it bigger, you just get to see parts more clearly. I don’t know about you, but I want to see God clearer and become closer to him. So the message is strong and simple: When You Give, When You Pray, and When You Fast.
From, “Apostolic Accent”/ Page 3, by James Dillion