Matthew 6:16-18 NIVUK
16 ‘When you fast, do not look sombre 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.
I’m an impatient decorator. I hate stripping wallpaper and sanding surfaces, and I’ll take all sorts of shortcuts in order to get to the fun bit of slapping the new paint on. This means I quickly get to the reward of redecorated walls. But sadly, this means the finish isn’t what it could be, it can be crude and prone to peeling off. Far better to take the time to do the preparation work for a finished job that is far better and a reward that lasts. So it is with so many areas of the Christian life. Rather than rushing to get a quick buzz from the admiration of others it is always better to take the time to do it properly and gain the deeper longer lasting favour of the Father.
Father, help me to keep my eyes on the long game rather than being distracted by short term gains.