Lent: To Add or Subtract? That is the Question…

The traditional season of Lent is about to be upon us; Fat Tuesday is here; Mardi Gras abounds. And for many, the next 6 1/2 weeks will mean sacrifice. Some will give up meat, others chocolate (GASP!), and still others soft drinks. The hope would be the time or money spent on these things would be reverted to religious pursuits; instead of eating, spend the time praying. Instead of the money spent on whatever, give the money to advance God’s kingdom. That is the reason–sacrifice on our part for God’s sacrifice for us.

But why all of this sacrificing anyway? I’m not suggesting we stop sacrificing. Without sacrifice, you wouldn’t be reading this article. A lot of sacrifice went into getting the both of us right here, right now. But, really, have you stopped to ask yourself why you give up things during Lent? Not the religious why, but the why behind the why. The religious why says “I’m sacrificing because Jesus sacrificed for me.” No one will disagree with you on that. But why are you doing it? What does your heart say? Is it so in some way God will look upon you with a little more favor? Do you feel like you have to sacrifice so that God will bless you this year? Do you think maybe some catastrophe will evade you? Do you think God might make things better for your sacrifice?

If so, consider Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” God has been gracious to us. Jesus lived the life we couldn’t live and died the death we couldn’t die; he humbled himself that we might be lifted up–saved, from ourselves, sin, and death. But it was done in grace, meaning we can’t add to it or gain God’s favor in any way. So, grace is why I ask “why?” when it comes to Lent. Because of grace, what we do doesn’t add or subtract from God’s love.

Instead of giving something up, might I suggest adding? Instead of not eating that twinkie, add moments to reflect or read (the Gospel of John is a good start) about who Jesus is and what He has done. Instead of sacrificing that juicy steak, add moments to consider what God’s grace means for you. Instead of giving up caffeine, add times of thankfulness for all God has done for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about adding or subtracting this Lent…

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One Response to “Lent: To Add or Subtract? That is the Question…”

  1. Very well put.Thoughtful and insightful.

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