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Lent

Weekly Devotionals

Lent

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 

Isaiah (58:6–7)

The season of Lent has just begun.  This season is one of preparation for all the believers. It is time for self-examination, repentance, prayer and self denial. Definitely, the Lenten season can be a time of spiritual renewal or growth. However, is this only beneficial for your spiritual improvement? Here is an article (Kevin. P.Emmert, A Lent that’s not for your spiritual improvement, Christianity Today, Feb. 18, 2015) to help us view  the social aspect in Lent.

Lent is not just about personal holiness. Nor is it about pursuing simplicity of life for its own sake. Lent also has a remarkable social dimension. As pastor and columnist Chuck B. Colson said, “Lent gives us the opportunity to move towards our neighbor in charity” because it “emphasizes simplicity for the sake of others.” It’s fine and good to give up sweets, alcohol, TV, or whatever you might abstain from. But what if our abstinence reflected our care for others more than our care for ourselves? What if, as Colson suggests, we allocated the savings from our fasting and gave them to the poor and marginalized?

Perhaps we could adapt Jen Hatmaker’s experiment. In her book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Hatmaker recounts how her family de-cluttered in seven areas of their life, enabling them not only to focus more on God but also give more generously to those in need. If charity became an integral part of our fasting, then, we would move closer to participating in the deeper meaning of Christ’s life and his fast.

The scene of Christ in the wilderness and his incarnation help us see the Christian life as an upward, inward, and outward movement. Lent teaches us to look to Christ as our sole redeemer and source of strength. It teaches us to look within ourselves, to examine our hearts and surrender them to Christ. And it teaches us to look to others, to see how we might serve and lay down our lives for others as Christ has done for us.