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“Do Not Look Dismal”

May 8th, 2005

“And whenever you are fasting, do not look gloomy and sour and dreary like the hypocrites, for they put on a dismal countenance that their fasting may be apparent and seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward in full already”

(Matthew 6:16, The Amplified New Testament)

What happens when Christian commitment turns into discontentment? Consider the man of Matthew 6:16. Here is an individual practicing “fasting” as a religious commitment. But, Jesus cautions this person not to become like the hypocrites of his day, who tend to turn such an expression of faith into a sick form of personal pain. It is written, elsewhere, “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart…therefore you shall serve your enemies” (Deuteronomy 28:47,48). There is a tendency among God’s people to show discontent: “In the morning you shall say, If only it were evening! and at evening you shall say, If only it were morning!” To these, the Lord says, I will send you back to Egypt in ships! (see Deuteronomy 28:67,68).
So, how do we feel about church, scripture, giving, serving, singing, and praying? Do you serve the Lord with gladness? Do you enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise? Part of being a Christian is doing a personal inventory. The apostle Paul, in speaking of the Lord’s Supper, said: “Let a person examine himself” (1Corinthians 11:28). He would again encourage the Corinthians: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Dismal cannot be your demeanor, because it is not your destiny. Now, while the sands of the hourglass are falling, lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh (Rom. 13:11; Lk. 21:28).

-Robert M. Housby

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