Ought to I Give Up One thing for Lent?
“Would you like half my brownie?”
“No thanks,” my pal mentioned. “I’ve given up sugar for Lent.”
Guilt pinched my coronary heart. I glanced round my church’s fellowship corridor, crammed with people having fun with their meal. What number of of them had additionally sacrificed one thing for Lent? I’d by no means given up something throughout Lent. However ought to I?
40 Days of Sacrifice
For nearly 2,000 years, Christians have put aside time for self-examination and repentance throughout the weeks earlier than Easter. Early church fathers and the Council of Nicea (AD 325) noticed days of fasting—from a number of days to 40 days—but it surely was Pope Gregory I (c. 540-604) who established the 40-day season between Ash Wednesday and Easter that many 21st-century Christians observe.1
Neither my household nor the church I attended as a baby paid a lot consideration to the Lenten season. As an alternative, they targeted on the joyous celebration of our Risen Savior. In my maturity, nevertheless, I’ve attended church buildings that supply Maundy Thursday and Good Friday providers. At present, I attend a church that provides Ash Wednesday providers and Lenten Bible research. I’ve realized to understand the somber time of reflection these providers and research present.
SEE ALSO: (Hopefully) Non-Self-Righteous Ideas on the Observance of Lent
The Hazard of Lent
Many Christians view Lent as a chance to refocus consideration on God’s love for us, so nice a love that he despatched his son to die for our sins. Giving up one thing we love—a meals or an exercise—to remind us of God’s sacrificial love might be useful to our religious development, particularly if we change it with a religious self-discipline equivalent to Bible studying, prayer, or fasting. Throughout Lent, we are able to consider our religious well being—how effectively the lifetime of the Risen Christ is being manifest in us.
However I additionally see the hazard of setting apart sure days for self-examination and repentance. Any religious apply can devolve right into a hole ritual; viewing some days as holier than others can result in hypocrisy. We might develop a Lenten and non-Lenten angle as simply as we develop a Sunday and non-Sunday mind-set, falling into the sin Jesus uncovered within the Pharisees: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain” (Matthew 15:Eight-9 NIV).
The Sacrifice That Pleases God
Many Scriptures remind us that bodily sacrifices are solely helpful in the event that they’re given from a completely devoted coronary heart. The prophet Samuel instructed King Saul, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). And David wrote, “You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it.…The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit…a broken and humbled heart” (Psalm 51:16-17 HCSB).
The Previous Testomony prophets persistently spoke out in opposition to sacrifices that have been futile makes an attempt to cowl sinful actions. Jesus additionally criticized the spiritual leaders for providing sacrifices that meant nothing (Matthew 23:23-25). The identical might be mentioned of any religious apply we undertake for the incorrect purpose, whether or not it’s Sunday morning worship, small-group Bible research, volunteer work, or private devotional time.
SEE ALSO: 5 Causes To not Observe Lent
One other hazard of setting apart particular instances of sacrifice is our tendency to disregard these practices the remainder of the 12 months. In Luke 9:23, Jesus mentioned, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (NLT). It’s the daily-ness of sacrifice that almost all pursuits God and greatest displays our dedication to him—a 365-day devotion to behave justly, love kindness, and stroll humbly earlier than God (Micah 6:Eight).
The Day by day-ness of Sacrifice
When Paul instructed the Romans to current their our bodies as a dwelling sacrifice, I feel he had in thoughts the daily-ness of sacrifice (12:1-2). My dedication to Jesus ought to contain the next:
- Day by day contemplation of the value Jesus paid for my sins and my incapability to fulfill God’s normal of righteousness
- Day by day dedication to rely extra on the Holy Spirit and fewer on myself
- Day by day reflection on the limitless provide of God’s mercy and beauty
- Day by day gratitude for the methods he permits me to be his palms and ft in a hurting world
Motivation is the whole lot. David mentioned the one factor he desired was spending time in God’s presence (Psalm 27:four). He additionally spoke of every day fulfilling his vows to the Lord (Psalm 61:Eight). One other psalmist wrote that he thirsted for God like a deer thirsts for water (Psalm 42:1-2). Once more, there’s the daily-ness issue. In spite of everything, what number of instances a day does a deer search water?
Seven Concepts to Observe Sacrifice
Listed here are a number of methods we are able to flip 40-day sacrifices into 365-day religious practices:
SEE ALSO: For Lent, Give Up Lent
- Attend weekly worship providers at a neighborhood church.
- Set up a every day Bible studying program. Begin with Mark, the shortest gospel. Learn 15-20 verses a day and also you’ll end by Easter.
- Set up a every day prayer time. Begin with one thank-you and one request within the morning and within the night. Add extra thank-yous, requests, and prayer instances as God directs.
- Search for alternatives to share with somebody why you have a good time Easter or different spiritual holidays.
If the above practices are already a part of your routine, think about including these:
- Be part of a weekly small-group Bible research.
- Make investments one hour a month at a neighborhood shelter, soup kitchen, or different neighborhood program. Clarify that you just serve due to what Jesus has accomplished for you.
- Spend time with a minimum of one neighbor every month. Discuss your religion in Christ if the chance arises.
The One Who Gave Himself for You
The core of the Easter message is the brand new life out there to each particular person due to the redemption Jesus offered by way of his demise and resurrection. If we’ve accepted Jesus as Savior, we’re new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). And, as Paul instructed the Galatian church buildings, “The life you see me living is not ‘mine,’ but it is lived by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (2:20 MSG).
If we spend the weeks earlier than Easter cultivating a religious apply that makes our new life extra evident to others year-round, we honor the Risen Christ who gave us that life, don’t we?
This text initially appeared on UnlockingTheBible.org. Used with permission.
Denise Ok. Loock is a contract author, editor, speaker, and Bible research trainer. She is the writer of Open Your Hymnal: Devotions That Harmonize Scripture with Track and the founding father of digdeeperdevotions.com, an internet site dedicated to serving to Christians dig deeper into the Phrase of God. She lives in Waynesville, NC, along with her husband, Mace, and cat, Ginger.
Picture courtesy: Unsplash.com
Publication date: March 20, 2017