Wednesday, March 01, 2006

To give up or not

Lent is a time of reflection upon ones own sin. The way I see it giving up something for lent stems from the idea that it helps one recognize what Jesus did for us through his sacrifice. Too often it seems that giving something up has either turned into a chore. People seem to do it because they think they have to and if not they are doing something wrong. These people will also complain about the fact that what they are giving up they really want. I think the whole point of this tradition is missed. Of course there is no real merit in giving up anything anyways it is meant as a way to help people prepare for Easter not as some contest for God.

Two examples I have seen in the past few days from either side.

One friend is giving something up but won't tell anyone. He seems to not feel it is important for anyone else to know what he is giving up. It is between him and God and he is using this to reflect not for glory.

Another person says they are giving up soda and fast food. Then goes on to mention that they will have nothing to eat now and what not in a very complaining matter.

First guy seems to be doing it for the right reason. It does not seem to be beneficial for the second person to give anything up. Will I be giving anything up probably not it is not really effective for me but I will be preparing nevertheless.

1 comment:

Joe Fremer said...

I agree with you about the first guy. The second guy is just fooling himself. He needs to read what Jesus said about people who went around with long faces to show how dedicated they are!

To me, fasting (or any of the other temporary abstaining like that that people voluntarily do) basically comes down to this: an interruption of business-as-usual. When I impose on myself an artificial, "special occasion" kind of personal ritual or discipline, it ought to inconvenience me, since I am such a creature of habit. The flash of annoyance at the speed bump in my well-worn groove yields to "oh, yeah, that's right, today I'm not _______ing. That's because I am making room in my life to specially concentrate on _________ing." We see this in Acts where a period of fasting is part of a special emphasis on seeking, and implementing, God's guidance (Acts 13:2ff, 14:23).

Fasting does NOT do anything to God. It does something to ME; not as a means of grace, but as a way of clearing space in my life for the means of grace to act, by eliminating some of the competition for my attention. And it works because it is temporary, deliberate, and voluntary. Nobody can or should make you "give up something for Lent." If you choose to do it, do it for your own walk with the Lord.