All of us have this inner desire to be praised and appreciated. We loved to be noticed and complimented for the things we do or things we own. It’s part of human nature, but sometimes we take it to the extreme. Being appreciated/praised becomes the driving force or the motive for the way we do things. Just like Dorian Grey, we put up a front or a mask for all the people to see and we hide behind it so people can’t see the real us.
This is very true for many of us today even in a church environment. We become a different person when we are in church or with church people. We act religious/spiritual and put on a pious front. We get involved in ministries which affords us the best exposure so people can see how active and involved we are. This was what Jesus warned us about in Matthew 6:16-18. The Pharisees are really loud and showy when they pray and fast. They want to show the world how pious they are. Their acts of worship are self-serving, aimed at reaping praises from men. Jesus despised these kind of worship. This is specially true today with the popularity of social media. We post personal prayers and other “spiritual/religious” stuff that really points back to self instead of pointing back to God.
We also often feel spiritual pride from the things we do. We think that we are “holier” because we fast, we pray or are involved in this ministry or that ministry and then we look down on other people because they do not share our activities. Just because a person is active in church doesn’t necessarily mean he is spiritually ok. A person may be part of all the ministries and yet not really saved. Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. What is the will of God then? What does He require from us when we worship?
True worship (which includes prayer and fasting) is never about us and all about Jesus. He is and should always be the center of it all. People often look at our outward appearances and acts. They can’t see what is in our heart. Just like we judge other people by what they do, how they look and even what they wear to church. We do not know what kind of person they really are, yet in our minds, we declare this person as spiritual and that person as not so spiritual. It’s time to stop all our hypocrisy and start living honestly. When we worship, it should be in spirit and in truth. No amount of fakery or play acting can fool God. He will not be deceived and will judge us accordingly. What kind of worship is acceptable to God? Psalm 51:16-17 tells us “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
When we begin to realize who God is and what He had done for us and then look at who we are and see how unworthy we truly are, then worship (including our prayer and fasting) becomes all about God and never about us nor is it about the praises of men.
Luke 18:11-13 – The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed:‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. ’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner. ’