Thursday, February 14, 2013

Of Sacrifice

This morning my two youngest daughters faced a dilemma.  It is green day but they wanted to wear red for Valentine's Day.  Let me explain.  Of their own initiative they made themselves a chart of what colors they would wear on each day.  It is now a hard and fast rule.  They must wear the right color. 

Yet, no one has told them they have to do a color scheme for each day.  They've placed that upon themselves and now are a slave to their little chart.  It reminds me of the rules we place on our own lives but which God has never commanded. 

As lent arrives, we think of giving something up; making a sacrifice.  I'm not against it, but I'm not sure I'm for it either.  While I understand the good intentions, sometimes I struggle with its purpose for the Redeemed.

Giving something up does not guarantee my relationship with God will deepen, nor will it necessarily show how much I love Him.  It could do just the opposite, acquiring a proud spirit or a self-sufficient attitude.  There is a danger of looking to the fast of lent to make me a better person, rather than to the Person of Christ to change me.

Why are we so eager to determine what we will sacrifice, when God has already set the terms in His commands, that we love one another?  He asks us to be patient, kind, humble, not rude or self-seeking, keeping no record of wrongs, trusting, hopeful, and enduring.  (1st Cor. 13:4-7)  Love.  Could it be that in choosing to add rules for ourselves, we are avoiding what God has asked of us, to simply love one another? 

On the one hand, it can cause us to come to the end of ourselves as we realize that we cannot do the thing we have purposed in our hearts to do.  It can lead us to depend on God all the more.  But on the other hand, we can also be very disciplined to carry out our fast and suffering by our own will power.  This is where we must be careful of blending our faith with legalism.

If the truth be known, we need always sacrifice.  We are to "owe no man anything, but to love one another." (Rom. 13:8)  This alone takes immeasurable amounts of self-denial.  What good is lent if we will not love each other in the real needs of life or give our 'yes' or 'no' in commitment to one another?

The Lord desires our obedience more than our sacrifice. (1st Sam.15:22) He wants us to snuggle up to Him in relationship, to draw near to Him that He might draw near to us.  (James 4:8)  That's all. 

God asks us to be LIVING sacrifices. (Rom. 12:1,2)  I can be a slave to my own rules, to my sin nature, or to Christ.  I would choose the latter.  And to be a slave to Christ means I will obey Him in day to day living through love for one another. 

If our fasting during lent helps us draw closer to God, it is certainly a good thing.  But if its only a fad, like the latest diet, or simply following the idea of a person we idolize, we must be careful.  We don't have to place Christianity into a formula in order to live it.   In Christ we are free. . . free to give of ourselves to one another and to love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. 

1 comment:

  1. I love this. I feel this way about lent as well. Too funny about that chat your girls made!