New International Version
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.
Keep joy in your soul when you are fasting and let its light brighten your outward environment. Let it be the radiance and hue of Christ in you and leave that stern-face in the grave of hypocrisy. People gravitate towards the joyful, hopeful, and thankful because they exude confidence and authentic discipleship in Christ.
The Pharisees made a show of their piety when they fasted, usually twice a week. They disfigured their faces, put on subdued expressions, and looked downcast to broadcast their spiritual exercise of self-denial. Oh, the irony of it all!
Their self-denial became self-promotion of their spirituality. They had become hypocritical in their self-humiliation before God for reasons like the confession of their sins and seeking God’s face in times of special needs. Fasting is a beneficial Christian discipline (1 Corinthians 7:27) without the show, for that is what Jesus condemned (Matthew 6:16-18).
The reaction in your face when you bite into an orange reveals its taste. It either invites someone to enjoy one with you or look for something else to delight their heart. The Pharisees missed this point, but we shouldn’t. Our reward from the Father’s hand is more precious than the applause of men. We do not set out to deceive people in our spiritual exercises. We should always allow reticence to guide our demeanor.
So, when you fast, put on the shine of Christ. Let the look of a radiant face that comes from the joy of the Holy Spirit, bless people, but not the mockery of a hypocritical act. People are not blind. They can distinguish sincerity from hypocrisy. Time always unmasks the hypocrite on the stage and draws the curtain down on the comedy before the show ends.
Be authentic, my friend, and let God be who He is in your motivations.