A few days ago, my husband and I listened to a radio talk show host describe various ways a Christian might “give something up” for the 40-day Lent season in preparation for Resurrection Sunday. This concept has been around for as long as I can remember, though more widely practiced by Catholics than most Protestants.
Reflecting on this, it seems to me that if we are spending as much time as we should be studying God’s Word, praying, guarding both our spiritual and physical health, and striving to be ever closer to Jesus on an “everyday” basis, there should be no need for a short-term annual “fast” from “fill in the blank _______________.”
Most of the things I have heard people “give up” over my lifetime of nearly 70 years had little or nothing to do with the spiritual revival that fasting for Lent should involve, if it is practiced. The idea that giving up chocolate for 40 days will bring you closer to God is not believable. The idea that giving up social media for 40 days will bring you closer to God is only believable if you spend all of that extra time studying the Word, praying and serving others. If you spend so much time on social media that you feel the need to “give it up” annually for a little while, you’re spending too much time on social media and need to make a permanent correction, not take a 40-day hiatus.
The greatest share of my social media time is spent attempting to encourage and inspire others to live a healthier life, walk more closely with Christ, and serve Him and others at every opportunity. If I took a 40-day break from what I do on a daily basis, my church family and others would miss inspiration and encouragement that they might have benefited from.
We eat a very small amount of chocolate on a regular basis, so giving it up would not be a sacrifice on any level. If I ate way too much chocolate – so much that not eating any would be a huge sacrifice – then I should change my eating habits and honor God every day with what I put in my body. The same with coffee or sweets or fast food. Every day we should be doing our best to keep the “temple” of our body the best it can be.
Give something up for Lent if you must, but please work toward being the best Christian, the best servant, the best spouse, the best parent, the best student, the best “whatever” every day, not just 40 days a year. Study and fast and pray faithfully and regularly, as God inspires you to do.
Please join me in looking forward to Resurrection Sunday as we celebrate God’s most amazing gift to mankind!