40 days. This number represents the days of the Lenten season. These days are typically designed to show sacrifice, emulating Christ’s 40 days of fasting and journey to the cross. Believers across the globe generally sacrifice a bad habit, they’ll change something in their diet, or give up social media for the duration of Lent. Many even attempt to stop sinning for these days. These religious practices often serve as a means of demonstrating repentance and getting closer to God.
These formalities work for the designated period. However, when the time expires people eagerly return to the “things” they “gave up” as if a sacrifice wasn’t made at all. This makes one think, what is the true purpose of the temporary sacrifice, and how did it bring you closer to God.
With the Lenten season, the focus is primarily on what Christ sacrificed. However, we often overlook the characteristics of the sacrifice He demonstrated in order to complete His assignment. He gave up food, He fasted. In order to fast, He had to remain focused on the goal and God the Father. He had to remain disciplined in the spirit. He also had to prepare in advance.
In order to complete the fast, He had to rely on strength from God the Father. He had to consistently pray, to resist temptation, and remain steadfast within the fast. He had to listen to God the Father with a willing heart.
He had to deny himself. This means He was selfless. He submitted to the will of the Father, which meant He had to be humble, and demonstrate love and trust. He had to listen to God’s direction. He knew God’s voice and understood what He said.
He made a conscious choice to do the will of God the Father.
On His way to the cross, and even on the cross, Jesus continued to display these and other necessary characteristics to complete His mission. In fact, throughout His time on earth, He maintained them.
So, let’s take a look at each of the traits Jesus exhibited. Focus, unconditional love, humility, listening to understand, trust, forgiveness, discipline, prayer, preparation, consistency, and self-denial in the sense of being selfless. Jesus did not simply fast and gave up food. He provided an example of how believers should live their lives. If we adapt the characteristics Christ displayed during His journey to the cross, giving things up during Lent will seem insignificant. It will simply become a religious practice. Rather than giving up “things, or creature comforts” for lent, it may be best for believers to consciously focus on adapting Christs characteristics day by day. This way emulating Christ will become a habit, and this habit will become a lifestyle.
Instead of giving up sweet treats, take on an attitude of forgiveness. Think about someone you’ve struggled to forgive over time and why you’ve grappled with forgiving them. Focus on releasing them and the situation from your spirit. Pray to get to the root of things, remain focused, and forgive. This will provide more satisfaction to your mind, body and spirit than any sweet treat will.
This season of Lent has passed. Next years time seems far away, however, now is the time to start preparing for next year’s Lenten season to make a cognizant effort towards taking on the attitude and spirit of Christ. You can begin by identifying one attribute of Christ you want to become a part of you. Delve into that attribute for a genuine understanding of what it means and looks like from a biblical perspective. Pray consistently for it to become a part of you. Put it into practice and always reflect on your progress in the spirit. Lastly, remain steadfast and unmovable to complete the goal.
Lent is about sacrifice and coming closer to Christ. Let’s make a serious effort to sacrifice self and become closer to Christ by taking on more of who He is in and out of the Lenten season.