In Matthew 4:1-2, we read that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. After fasting forty days and forty nights, that's when "the tempter" showed up.
Jesus's fast made him hungry, yet when the tempter came, he could not tempt Jesus. Despite his weakened condition, Jesus remained righteous and strong.
The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial. - Wikipedia
The season of Lent began on February 13th, and reminds us of Jesus's fast in the wilderness and his strength and command of the enemy - the prelude to his ministry on earth.
A worthwhile 40-day fast. Last year, I gave up Facebook for Lent. I felt it was interfering with my time, and most importantly I believed Facebook activities was replacing time I should in other activities that were more beneficial. I believe God put on my heart the need to give it up during Lent. Facebook had become an idol.
This year, I deliberated about the Lenten fast. "What should I give up?" I asked myself over and over again. I prayed about it and I put a great deal of thought into it, but came up blank every time. It was as if God was being silent in order for me to figure it out.
On February 13th, a pastor "friend" of mine on Facebook posted the following:
"While many are giving up chocolate and coffee for Lent, I would like to suggest as Christians, we give up being judgmental, or pointing fingers at others, or condemning people, or being self righteous ... and that we focus more on being welcoming, forgiving, loving, learning, praying, and living more like Jesus taught us how to live."
As God provided Abraham with that last minute sacrifice, He ironically provided me with a challenging sacrifice for Lent through the very thing I gave up last year for Lent.
What I am giving up for Lent: I gave up being judgmental, pointing fingers, condemning people, and being self-righteous. I am replacing all of those behaviors with being welcoming, forgiving, and loving, learning and praying, and living more like Jesus taught us how to live.
Does anyone really know how difficult this is?
Since becoming a Christ-follower, I thought I had given up being judgmental, or finger pointing, or condemning or self-righteousness. Maybe believing I had given it up made me more self-righteous than ever! But in "giving it up for Lent," I'm more aware of those qualities in me, especially when they rear their ugly little heads. And they do rear those ugly little heads more often than I care to admit!
It is a constant battle, one in which only divine power is sufficient to fight. And only through prayer, repentance, worship and full-reliance on God will I be able to grow and become the person for whom God has great plans.
Whatever you gave up for Lent, whether it's chocolate or coffee or bad attitudes, remember that it's more than just about self-denial. Don't forget to factor in the prayer, penance, repentance, and alms-giving, and with God's strength and His Word in your heart, you will be stronger and better when the Holy Week arrives.