“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8
A number of years back, a woman came to one of the Bible study groups I was attending and said that rather than give something up for Lent, she would start something new. That was the reason she started coming to our study.
I go back and forth between “giving up” something old and “taking on” something new, but I don’t think we can effectively have one without the other. We give something up to make room for more of God in our lives. We turn to Him rather than that thing we gave up. In essence, we do something new.
And to start something new means we do give up an old habit or way of spending time, maybe an old way of thinking.
The problem comes when we focus more on the fact that we had to give something up than on the fact that we have a good and loving God who is better than anything we could ever lose or choose to walk away from.
I find many ways to misuse the things God has given me: food, anger, work, relationships, love, and even my sense of right and wrong. Each of these when used to glorify God are good. When I use them to glorify or satisfy myself, they no longer serve the purpose for which God created them.
When I sacrifice my right to eat whatever I want for whatever reason I want, I can acknowledge God’s purpose for food to provide nutrition and energy for my body. It is also serves a purpose in celebrating and remembering relationships. But when food is the focus and not the relationship, I’ve missed the most important thing.
When I sacrifice my right to be angry, I can acknowledge God’s grace and forgiveness that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me to be reconciled to the Father through faith in Him. Righteous anger belongs to God.
When I sacrifice my work as the end-all, be-all of the definition of success, I can acknowledge the opportunities my work provides to serve, testify to and provide means for spreading His Word in my world. Success comes from doing God’s work in obedience.
When I sacrifice my dysfunctional relationships, I can acknowledge the unique treasure we were each created to be. I can see others from His perspective and understand better the value and worth we each have in Christ. I can stop putting demands on others to satisfy my needs and seek to serve God through helping to meet the needs of others.
When I sacrifice my desire to withhold love or manipulate with love, I can acknowledge that God loves unconditionally. His love found in His Word trains, rebukes, corrects and equips so that I can continue to grow in and receive the fullness of His love and then share it with others.
When I sacrifice my understanding of right and wrong, I can acknowledge God as the only good and faithful Judge. I can allow the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of others so they can come to Jesus Christ seeking His truth for their lives. His truth is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Something to Consider:
How do you view what God asks you to give up for Him? Do you see and focus on the loss or the gain?
What one thing do you need from God today? What will you allow Him to remove from your life in order to make room for Him to satisfy this need?