Here we are, in the middle of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. Maybe you have decided to give up something for Lent. Many people do. How is that going so far? As you think about wanting the thing you gave up, we hope that you turn your focus instead on what Jesus gave up for us.
We would like to suggest a second focus for the second half of Lent. Instead of giving something else up, though, we want to take something up. We want to take up a commitment to respond to each situation with love.
It seems like we have plenty in our lives to be frustrated about … to get angry about. It may be something to do with politics, or faith, or our job, or a falling out in a relationship. Most of that negative reaction springs from one thing: selfishness. If we are human, we want things our way and we are convinced that our way is the right way.
Jesus is the way (and the truth and the life) and yet when people clearly not in his way met him, he did not judge them; instead, he loved them.
Will you make that your motto for the next two and a half weeks? Instead, Love!
What would it take to do something like that?
First, you will have to slow down. Many of us live our lives too fast to think about the ramifications of what we are doing and saying. We certainly don’t have time to actually think about how to love someone else. So, slow down and take a couple of cleansing physical, emotional and spiritual breaths.
Second, think about the people you will meet today, or tomorrow. Who are they? What are they about? What are they going through? If you don’t know those things, maybe the first loving think you can do is to ask them how they are doing and intently listen to their answers.
Third, commit to pray for them. You can tell them you are praying for them if you want but you don’t have to. Praying, as critical and important as it is, is not the end. It is just the beginning.
Fourth, take the time to consider what you could do for them that would make a difference in their lives. What action could you take? How could you stand in the gap for them? How could you come to their aid or support them? What would loving them look like?
Finally, consider what sacrifice of time, energy and resources it will require of you to love them well. Commit to make those sacrifices and then do it.
Wow. Taking up something for Lent ended up with sacrificing something for Lent. Who knew we would end up here? In reality, you are not sacrificing these things for Lent but for another four-letter word. Love.
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Beautifully written. I love Lent, but I know that even this good thing can become selfish, or be a cause for pride – absolutely not the point!! By not only giving up a thing we enjoy (and reminding ourselves that our greatest, most fulfilling joy is found only in Him), but also adding in love (in the great ways you spoke of!) our Lenten experience will be a far more holy one. Thanks.