Give or Give up?
Today can be the first day of a new journey.
It’s the first day of Lent. Ash Wednesday.
For Christians, Lent is the 40 days before Easter Sunday. It was originally designed to be an act of fasting, repentance, and spiritual discipline like Jesus did in the wilderness, while also reflecting on the suffering and sacrifice Jesus did on the cross for our salvation and the eternal joy of resurrection to new life.
Oftentimes people choose to “give up” something during Lent. People give up chocolate, soda, late night snacks, or Facebook to name a few. I’ve given up things in the past, but lately I’ve been asking myself: “Was I doing that just because it’s a ritual I’m supposed to do? Did I really give something up as an offering to Jesus or did I give something up in order to kick a bad habit so I’d feel better about myself?” Honestly, in years past, I confess I personally have used Lent as an excuse to kick a bad habit.
Did I truly struggle and wrestle like Jesus did those 40 days when he was tempted in the desert? He gave his hunger, struggles, and temptations to God in prayer. He gave His devotion and his holy trust wholly to the Lord to get him through those long 40 days.
So Lent…it’s all about giving. Giving Jesus ourselves because Jesus has given Himself for our life.
So, does Lent only have to be giving up something to keep us focused on Jesus? What about giving something? Intentionally. Daily. Sacrificially?
Do you have a spiritual discipline that’s a struggle for you to do daily but you’re willing to intentionally practice as a sacrificial offering to Jesus for the next 40 days?
What if you:
Give Jesus more time in the Word by turning off the TV at night?
Meditate daily and memorize one Scripture verse each week during Lent that has to do with trust, forgiveness, repentance, sacrifice, and resurrection?
Give God more of your time in prayer by getting up 15 minutes earlier each day?
Read a book about spiritual growth instead of being on social media?
Give Jesus that thing you struggle with on a daily basis, like trusting Him, letting go of guilt, or forgiving someone that’s hard to forgive?
Give intentional time with your children at dinner each night and read the Bible together as a family?
Give RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) daily? That truly can be a sacrifice in many ways. It’s so easy to have tunnel vision in your own world with busy schedule and not think that you can make a difference and be Jesus to those around you. One person at a time.
I encourage you to give daily. Jesus gave daily. He gave all of his time, energy, passion and love to people. He gave over his temptations, challenges, suffering and struggles to his heavenly Father to save us.
This Lent season can be the beginning of a new life journey because it doesn’t have to stop on Easter Sunday. What you choose to give or give up can be a life time practice, a way of living as a daily gift to Jesus for the sacrifice he gave of Himself for you and for me.