Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
When you hear the word "Lent," what comes to mind? Giving up those treasured sweets? Turning down a mouth-watering steak? Saying, "No," to a favorite television show or a social media site for 40 days?
There is nothing wrong with giving certain habits up for Lent as long as our hearts are in the right place. And, our souls are focused on the why we choose to abstain from those practices. Because, whatever we choose to do should be done in order to help us grow into a closer relationship with God.
And, we should do so with rejoicing!
I am reminded of what Jesus said when He instructed His disciples about the practice of fasting, of "giving up": "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." (Matthew 6:16)
So, what have you given up for Lent? Has it been difficult? Is it strengthening your commitment to the Lord? Or, is the "doing without" doing you in?
If that's the case, maybe it's time to stop and rethink your direction. Because, if you're walking around with a Pharisee face, you are inviting the sympathy of others, not welcoming the love God has for you. Wants to give you. Wants you to give in return.
Most importantly, in all times and in all places, even in the repentant season of Lent, the Lord wants you to rejoice in Him. Rejoice in His forgiveness, His mercy, His grace. Rejoice in His steadfast, unfailing love.
So, pack away the sackcloth and ashes! Put a smile on your face!
And, shine the light and love and joy of God into this hurting and needy world.
Will you share your Lenten discipline(s) in the comment section today?
Will you join me in prayer?
We thank You, Father, that You love us enough to send Your only Son, Christ Jesus, to die on a cross for our sins. During this season of Lent, help us to focus on this wondrous act of love and forgiveness as we prepare to celebrate the glory of the resurrection at Easter. Let all that we do in Your Holy Name be done with rejoicing! Amen.