Lent means different things to different people.
Some give up something for Lent. I have had friends who were in a season of bad moods as they tried to get through Lent without their coffee, chocolate or cigarettes.
The reasons they gave for this practice varied. Some saw it as a new beginning to life where they could kick bad habits.
Some saw it as participating in the suffering of Jesus (and those of us, who had to live with them in their suffering wondered why we had to suffer too. 😳)
Some encouraged us to give things we no longer needed to charities. They took Lent to be an opportunity to clean house with some added benefit to others.
However, to give something you no longer need hardly seems a sacrifice.
What about giving our most prized possessions to others? Are we ready to do that?
Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
What does God want from us?
First of all, He wants us to do what He wants us to do in all seasons, not just in a calendar dictated season.
He wants us to follow Him, not tradition. Traditions can be prompts to remind us of how to best live our daily lives. But when we follow tradition as a false comforting routine, we are in danger of what Jesus warned us about.
“You nullify The Word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
God wants us to be merciful. It may mean being merciful in small ways. Give up our parking space to someone else. Let that person go ahead of us in line. Pay for someone else’s meal.
It may mean being merciful in larger ways. Forgive the unforgivable. Give good for evil. Love our enemies and pray for their good.
God wants us to know Him. When we really get to know Him as our Merciful Father, we can receive His Mercy and let it flow naturally through us to others.
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Jesus told us to “go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”
Jesus told one of His Students that he had spoken wisely when he said, “God is One and there is no other but Him. To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
How will you use this time to really get to know God? Start by remembering all the times He has extended His Mercy to you.
Receive His Mercy right now.
Remember all the times He has extended His Mercy to others.
Praise Him and thank Him.
Ask Him how He would like to use you as a conduit of His Love, Mercy and Grace to everyone you meet.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love!