Most people have heard of giving something up for Lent. This year, with the tough winter we have had there are jokes going around about giving Winter up for Lent (I wish! I hope! I pray!!!). Often people give up caffeine or chocolate or Facebook. The idea of giving something up is to participate in the suffering of Jesus. That in some small way the suffering we might experience in not having chocolate for 40 days or so, would help us remember that Jesus suffered a lot more than that for us.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to give up something for Lent. But often people give up something that is bad for them and then binge on or at least go back to that thing once Easter has arrived. For some, I am sure, it is a helpful practice. But sometimes it seems a somewhat pointless exercise.
There is an alternative practice that is growing in popularity. Instead if giving up something for Lent, people are starting to consider doing something for Lent. Whether a spiritual practice (committing time each day to pray, have a devotional, read scriptures, commune with God, etc.) or finding acts of generosity and kindness to do each day (check out http://www.40acts.org.uk), this practice turns Lent into an active time. One in which we participate in God’s work in this world. I like that idea a whole lot.
I hope, whichever way you approach Lent, that you will use this time to grow a little closer to God. To consider all that God has given you and all that Christ has done for you. I hope this will be a season that enriches your walk of faith.
Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Philippians 2:12, 13 NLT