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All for the Sake of Appearances

In Shakespeare's play, “Hamlet,” Queen Gertrude makes the comment, “The lady protests too much, methinks.” This famous line has become a modern‐day response to those who make such a big deal out of something that their big deal comes off as suspicious, at best. People frequently have religious practices that come off as suspicious. And the fast is certainly one of them.
Beware of anyone who wants to let you know, by the look on his or her face, that he or she is fasting. Jesus warns against this behavior.
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:16‐18 NKJV)
So many of our religious traditions are for the sake of appearances—meant to elevate us in the eyes of others rather than to elevate God in our own eyes. But if, for example, we fast to impress other people with our spirituality, whatever applause we get from them is the only benefit we will see. We will certainly have no meaningful exchange with God.
Fasting to impress others is on the same level as praying to impress others—which Jesus also warns against.
“When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street cor

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