What Jesus Gave Up for You
Rev. David Schmidt
February 26, 2020
We have come to the season of Lent. And as you may know, some Christians make it a practice to give something up for Lent. If this is a practice that helps you to focus on your sins and Christ’s suffers, then by all means continue with the practice. However, from my own experience, I can tell you there is a wrong way to give something up for Lent.
The danger is that one can so easily be motivated by the law rather than by the gospel. Here’s what I mean. One time I decided to give up soft drinks for Lent. As the season progressed, I noticed that I was shifting my definition of what a soft drink was. I decided I could have sweet tea. Then I decided it would be okay if I drank clear carbonated drinks without caffeine. I changed my rules so much that I’m not sure if I even succeeded in the end.
When we allow the law to motivate us, we are constantly asking ourselves how far we can take something before we are technically breaking the rules. The motivation is not out of love, but out of what we absolutely have to do. Being motivated by the law is like saying to God, “If I could get away with doing less I would.”
Don’t let me discourage you if you do decide to abstain from something. That’s wonderful, if by giving something up you are better able to focus on what Jesus has done for you. If you do decide to give something up for Lent, just remember it’s not an endurance test. The point of Lent is not to show the Lord what you are able to give up for him, but to fix your heart and mind on what the Lord gave up for you. The more you understand what he did for you, the greater your motivation will be to live for him. The more you understand God’s love for you in Jesus, the more you want to serve him and serve others. That’s what being motivated by the Gospel is all about.
Whether you choose to give something up for Lent or not, it is my prayer that this Lenten season would provide an opportunity for you to see to a greater degree Jesus’ love for you.