Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Exodus 21-22, Matthew 19
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I assure you that it will be very hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 In fact, it’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.”
25 When his disciples heard this, they were stunned. “Then who can be saved?” they asked.
26 Jesus looked at them carefully and said, “It’s impossible for human beings. But all things are possible for God.”
27 Then Peter replied, “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you. What will we have?”
28 Jesus said to them, “I assure you who have followed me that, when everything is made new, when the Human One sits on his magnificent throne, you also will sit on twelve thrones overseeing the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And all who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or farms because of my name will receive one hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last. And many who are last will be first (Matthew 19:23-30, Common English Bible).
Well, it is just about that time of year again. Lent is upon us. It begins two weeks from this Wednesday, and yes, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day happen to fall on the same day this year.
Growing up a Baptist kid, I heard of people giving up something for Lent but I didn’t really understand it. I just knew that my Catholic friends’ plate lunches on Fridays didn’t look as good as mine. Theirs was something that looked like fish and smelled like the dead fish we talked about a few days ago. I also heard that they couldn’t do things like eating chocolate or drinking a Coke. It always made me glad that I wasn’t a Catholic (if you are Catholic, please don’t take offense, it is just something a kid would think).
I was actually quite surprised when I became a Methodist and about nine months rolled by and I started hearing about giving something up for Lent and Lenten worship services. I honestly don’t remember what, if anything I gave up that year for Lent.
For way too many of us, we are like the rich young man in our lesson today. We might be like the little girl in today’s graphic.
I recently ran across something about the rich young man that I hadn’t considered before. The rich young man really wasn’t willing to give up much of anything. He was willing to go and do, but he wasn’t willing to give up his earthly goods.
Though childlike, the little girl in the graphic is much the same way. She is willing to give up something for Lent, however, she is only willing to give up something she really didn’t want to start with. Brocolli isn’t really much of a sacrifice.
Our Lenten sacrifices should be something that is actually a sacrifice for us. It may even be that what you give up is nothing more than time but you take that time and reach out and do something for others with the time you sacrificed.
What we give up, what we sacrifice for God should be more than what we want to do. It should be more than that food I don’t like. I shared with someone recently I don’t like liver or eggs. Giving them up for Lent would be no sacrifice because I’m not going to eat them anyway.
For many people, giving up Facebook or Twitter or their computer is a real sacrifice. Others choose to give up some food item and others that quit smoking (I once knew a woman who quit smoking every year for Lent and then Easter Sunday, she was smoking again).
I would challenge you to be in thought and prayer about how you can be more disciplined by the sacrifice you make or a new discipline with which you will engage. Make it a sacrifice. Make it something that has real meaning. You will be blessed by your effort.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved