Less is More
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1
One of my earliest memories of being disciplined was losing my television privileges for thirty days. I can’t recall what I did to receive such a consequence, but all I know is that felt like the longest thirty days of my life. I cannot think of something as insufferable as a boy missing his cartoons and superhero shows.
That painful month came to mind as we begin to prepare for LENT, which begins next Wednesday (March 6-April 18). The Lenten calendar is forty days of forsaking regular comforts in life (generally fasting from food) as a means of our remembering the sacrifice of Christ and aligning our hearts, minds, and lives to bear His Name, image, and life of love. Millions of believers worldwide will participate in the Lenten season, by abstaining from certain types of foods and activities that are regularly practiced and even pleasurable in one’s daily life. Make no mistake, what one forsakes during Lent should be costly, require a higher degree of discipline that is felt throughout the day. It is a commitment that should have us thinking more about Jesus, calling out for His grace and strength, and walking in the sustenance of the Word and Spirit.
Often, the types of things given up during Lent are:
Favorite types of foods and beverages such as snacks/desserts, carbs, caffeinated drinks, and even meat.
Time on smartphones, Facebook, or binge watching a favorite show on Netflix.
Hobbies and activities like playing sports, video games, working on a personal collection or house project.
These things can be profitable for us to forego during these forty days, as they may be the very thing that brings you closer to Jesus. Yet this year, as I approach Lent, I wonder if there is something more that can be given as a form of devoted dedication than simply physical things I withdraw from? The activity of the Lenten calendar should be more than a refraining from things, it should have us becoming more aware of the great love given to us through Christ which compels us to become more like Him in every manner. In 1 John 3:16 we are told, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” And in Philippians 3:10 the Apostle Paul declares his heart’s passion to pursue Christ, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.”
Perhaps what would bring God the greatest glory and delight is a spiritual step each day that leads to transformation! Let me suggest some new practices to this forty-day season that will be tough, that will be sacrificial, that will bless others, and that will have you looking more and more like Jesus:
Make a commitment that the words you speak are edifying. Refrain from cursing, gossiping, complaining, and judging others (wow, that will be a tough one).
“Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
- James 3:10
Discipline your schedule to ensure a time each day to read the Bible.
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be very careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”- Joshua 1:8
Do something kind and generous for someone else each day: Do the dishes after dinner, give a bigger tip to your server, help a neighbor who has a need, or take a family member or friend out for coffee who needs someone to talk to.
“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”- Romans 12:13
The Lenten season is fast approaching, the cross is our focus, and living for Jesus is what our faith is all about!