You’ve had two shots at it now. First came your ‘New Year Resolution’ to quit smoking, begin a diet, start exercising, read more, go back to school, end a damaging relationship, whatever. Then came Ash Wednesday, and with it the beginning of Lent, and yet another chance to give something up, this time sacrificially.
Okay, so maybe you’re 2010 batting average is suffering with an ‘0 for 2’ start to the year. Or maybe you wish that you had added some other item to your list of things to give up or begin as that new beginning or that sacrifice. Maybe you never made any resolution or made any Lenten sacrifice to begin with. It’s not too late to begin to dedicate yourself, or to re-dedicate yourself.
As for the idea of a resolution, it’s still very early in 2010. We just began March this past week. Almost 10 full months remain in the calendar year. There is plenty of time to make the positive changes to your life that you wanted to make, plenty of opportunity to make 2010 a different year than any other.
And as for a Lenten sacrifice, there is still a full month until Easter Sunday. If you ‘gave up’ something for Lent but then backslid or caved in to whatever the temptation, you can still make a statement that means something.
Whatever your vice, be it smoking, alcohol, dietary, sexual, habitual, giving it up as a sacrifice to the Lord for a full month is a legitimate sacrifice.
Remember what Lent really is all about. It is a time of voluntary self-denial, a time to reflect on that ultimate sacrifice that Jesus Christ is about to make for you as an individual. He is about to go through the process of being imprisoned, publicly mocked, tortured, and put to an agonizing death, all so that you might have an opportunity to have your sins forgiven and may earn a place in Heaven for eternity.
Whether it be something as mundane as giving up drinking soda beverages or something as sexually addicting as viewing pornography, your personal sacrifice can never equate to what Christ went through on your behalf. The important thing is to focus on making a sacrifice, and then doing your personal best to stay with it for a month.
And also remember that your attitude during this sacrificial period is important. It matters that you don’t pull out the “I Survived Lent” t-shirt on Easter Sunday morning and shovel a pile of jelly beans into your mouth. It is not enough to simply give something up, or make increased church donations, or whatever your sacrifice, but you should do so joyfully in the knowledge that God is recognizing your change.
If you began a period of sacrifice a few weeks back when Lent officially began, but fell off the wagon, get yourself right back up and get back on. There is a four weeks long journey ahead to Good Friday and Easter, and your slightly shortened time of sacrifice would be no less valid. It’s the idea of caring about it that matters. Don’t give up, there’s still time.
NOTE: this is the continuation of the regular ‘Sunday Sermon’ series, all entries of which can be enjoyed by clicking on that label below this entry at the http://www.mattveasey.com website