When asked, most people I know tell me they observe Lent for two reasons: first, it is socially expected in their circles, and second, it is a chance to give up a bad habit for a maintainable length of time, although if they are anything like me, these habits are almost certainly reintroduced at some point.
The trouble is, God is not only concerned with what we do not do. It is what we do do that also matters. I have not always appreciated this idea, but Ephesians 4:17-32 recently fell into my lap and as I mused on this passage, I came to the realization that giving something up is not why Christians observe Lent.
Lent is a time for shrugging off the old and putting on the new. We are estranged from the life God intended for us, but Jesus came to point us in the right direction and offer a bridge to that life; it is our duty to walk and progress in that direction. Lent should be a time to help us toward the life of God.
The idea is to change our behavior, which will change our attitude.
Too many people believe that it is necessary to be good prior to coming to church or asking Jesus into their life. Sometimes I convince myself that God only wants me if I am perfect. This month, we offer you a passage of scripture to reflect on in Devotion. The scripture, from Luke, shows us that the Pharisee, who considered himself perfect, was mistaken. God does not want us to approach Him and broadcast how good we are; in truth we are not good. He desires our admission that we are not happy with everything in our lives, we have bad habits, and we act in ways that hurt others and ourselves. When we admit this, He can help us.
God is not waiting on a fix from us; He expects us to come to Him so we can be transformed by His great love. Let’s use this Lenten season to work towards the life God intended for us so that we might be able to joyously and triumphantly be in relationship with God in the same attitude as Christ entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.