For millions of Christians, this is the season of Lent. It lasts forty days, minus Sundays, until Resurrection Sunday, a.k.a. Easter. The season is to remind us of the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness resisting temptation from the devil, which recalls the forty years the Hebrews spent in the wilderness being corrected for their sins and honed into a faithful people of God before entering the Promised Land.
It is common to “give up” something for Lent. Some give up alcohol, others chocolate or TV. Most recently, the trend has been to then take something on. Perhaps more prayer time, serving the needy, or adding a bit more in the offering plate.
My pastor, in his Lenten letter, suggested we go deeper. He said that it is not so much what we give up and take on, but that we reflect on what Jesus gave up and took on. “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8)
Following his advice has taken the focus of my Lenten “sacrifice” off of me and onto my Savior. Instead of concentrating on depriving myself of chocolate or TV, I am focusing on what He deprived Himself of out of love. Instead of struggling to take on something I normally don’t do, I am concentrating on His struggles. That puts my serving others in a new perspective.
Dearest Lord, who stretched out your arms on the wood of the cross for my sake, forgive me for the times I do not fully grasp your sacrifice for me. As I travel through this Lenten journey, let me keep my eyes on you who took on more than I could ever bear and gave up all for me. Amen.
Go Deeper: Read Philippians 2:5-10. Consider my pastor’s wise observation and really reflect on what Christ gave up and took on for you.