Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Lent: a time of Sacrifice
“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (V. 3)
So what are you giving up for Lent? This is a question asked in schools, homes, businesses, and churches throughout the world, usually right after Ash Wednesday even though the great Lenten fast actually began this past Sunday, February 10, 2013. Too often the answer is either dismissive (“Oh I don’t do that or that’s just a ritual”) or meaningless (I’m giving up meat… why? Oh just because my parents told me to or that’s what I do every year). However, the Lenten fast is a great opportunity not only to witness who Christ is in our lives but also to meaningfully change our lives to grow in our spiritual walk with Him.
Our desire to give up things for the Lenten fast should be an opportunity for us to witness who the Lord is in our lives. Who is He? Is He some story? Is He some ritual? Or is He something more? Do we sacrifice during lent out of obligation, or do we look to endure suffering and sacrifice as our Lord taught us for the betterment of others. When we look at the suffering and sacrifice of the Lord, it was always for the betterment of others. His willingness to endure humiliation and suffering was to set us, His people, free. As we read in Isaiah 58, God asks Isaiah why people fast if at the end of it they are still quarrelling and striking one another. Why do people fast, if injustice, chains, hunger, and lack of clothing reign (verses 3-11). The Lord tells Isaiah that when they help those less fortunate and change their behavior that the glory of the Lord will be their rear guard and He will hear them. So what are we fasting for this Lenten season?
When we consider our Lenten fast, we must consider what and/or who are we doing it for. In today’s passage, we read that a Christian is like a good soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. What do those three types of people have in common? They labor for the good of others - the soldier protects the lives of others, the athlete competes on behalf of others, and the farmer produces food for others. They do it despite the fact that many of those who they are laboring for do not support or help them. Too often when we talk to one another about outreach and evangelism, we are too quick to point out the hardships, the difficulties, and the obstacles. However, we serve a mighty God - a Lord who will not make us ashamed of His gospel. Are we like Paul in Romans in crying out “Woe to me, if I do not preach the gospel, woe to me”?
We have already begun our Lenten fast, and whatever we have given up is what it is. However, it is never too late to choose to use our sacrifice to glorify Him. As our key verse tells us, if we endure, we will reign with Him. Did you give up a certain type of food? Collect the money you would have spent on it and use it to help those less fortunate. Did you decide to change a bad habit and/or behavior? When someone notices, tell them it’s for the Glory of God? Did you give up nothing? Then, make a meaningful decision to use this Lenten season to spread His gospel. Whatever we have sacrificed, let all praise, honor, and glory go to the Lord always.
Heavenly Father, thank you for all the blessings You bestow upon us every day of our lives. As we sacrifice__[Fill in with your Lenten fast]__this Lenten season, enables us to turn that sacrifice into a constant witnessing of Your gospel and glory. Amen.
John. C Thomas, St Thomas MTC, NY