Grace Life Church
What to give up for Lent?
I decided it would be a good thing to give up something real easy during Lent. Things like complaining, murmuring, or being critical and judgmental. Then I read in the Bible, and it suggests we give up or put away things that are very similar as well. Ephesians 4:31 "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." The Message Bible says it this way; "Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, and profane talk." The J.B. Phillips translation says it: "Let there be no more resentment, no more anger or temper, no more violent self-assertiveness, no more slander and no more malicious remarks." Hear how the New Living Translation encourages us; "Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior."
It seems that society is teaming with anger, bitterness, speaking harsh words that lead us into rage and eventually to murder. I have a little box on my desk that says the seed of murder is anger. I cannot help but think this seed is behind all the recent horrendous shootings of innocent children. Unchecked anger in the minds of lost bitter souls hardens the heart into despairing depression that will kill relationships with God, others and ourselves. Many times, like it did between Cain and Abel, the end result can be suicide or taking of another life.
I know for me to watch the constant barrage by the news media of stories of senseless killing stirs up anger in me. I then find it so easy to complain, murmur and judge with a condemning attitude.
God offers a remedy to help us with our angers and attitudes in His word. James 1:19-21 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God's righteousness doesn't grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.
Obey these verses from Ephesians. Ephesians 4: (NLT) 29 Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. 30 And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
My thought for today is how hard it is when we focus on not doing something. When I fast from food it seems all I can think about is eating; but, if I spend that time in worship and prayer, it becomes easier. I have found that giving up something can be very difficult until you replace what you give up with thinking and doing the right things.
I pray that whatever you may have given up for Lent will be replaced with your focus on your relationship with Jesus rather than on what you have laid down.