Ephesians 4:31 (New Living Translation)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
Ash Wednesday is right around the corner. What are you giving up for Lent?
Lent is a traditional 40-day season of reflection, repentance, and self-denial as we remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our salvation and the triumph of his resurrection. The purpose of “giving up something for Lent” (traditionally, fasting) is to learn to depend on God by temporarily abandoning those things in our lives that we fear we cannot live without. In a mild observance of Lent, we might give up something we enjoy, like chocolate or caffeine or television. A more serious sacrifice, however, might mean surrendering a deep-rooted habit or a self-protective attitude that nevertheless hinders our obedient and joyful walk with God.
In the Ephesians passage above, Paul names some idols that tend to rule our lives in the place of God and are hurtful to our relationships. As we approach the season of Lent, you might consider abandoning one of these idols in your life, even if only for a week at a time.
To give up an idol for one week, commit to the following three steps:
- Notice every instance of this idol in your life. (For example, if your chosen idol is “slander,” notice every occasion when you are tempted to speak falsely and negatively about another person, even if you think he or she “deserves” it.)
- Notice the appearance of this idol in those around you (Recognize when others are speaking slander or gossip to you about another person.)
- Determine that, for at least this one week, you will not submit yourself to the rule of this particular idol. (You will neither listen to nor speak slander about any other person.)
Additional tip: Consider keeping a Lenten journal so that you can record your daily experiences and note how God is working in your life.
FATHER, I know I will never be worthy of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for my sins. Thank you for pursuing my heart and calling me to a life of integrity. Help me to abandon the habits and selfish desires that harm my relationships and keep me distant from you. Protect me from Satan as you test my character and teach me how to depend on you.
Joel 2:12; Jonah 2:8-9
Name a destructive habit or attitude that would be difficult for you to abandon for more than a week.