Jeremiah 7:22-23- “For when I (God) brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.”
After reading all of these passages I had a lot of time to think about what Lent is all about. All of this thinking reminded me of a sermon I once heard some time ago on lent. Lent is not so much about giving something physical up for God. It’s more about what is done instead of doing the thing you gave up for lent. That seems kind of broad so I will be more detailed. Let’s say you give up junk food for Lent. You spend the first day doing well and don’t even look at a potato chip or think about drinking a coke. For the next week you have a few cravings, but all is well. Then all of the sudden out of nowhere that bag of chips and that gallon of ice-cream starts taunting you saying “come get me, you know you want some.” Then after a while you falter. Then you feel like you failed God, because you thought that Lent was just about giving something up, and nothing more after that.
See I have tried to give up things for lent and have failed, after the sermon I heard, I got a whole new perspective. How about looking at Lent in a new way? When you give up something for lent it usually means that there is some freed up time in your life. For example I am a huge fan of a huge bowl of ice-cream with chocolate syrup smothered over it. Now let’s say I was to give that up. That would take about 15 minutes to prepare, eat, and clean up. What to do with the extra time? Well how about spending that time with God?! What if we gave up something for lent and as soon as we had a craving or had extra time we went to the Lord in prayer or read God’s word. We would grow so much more and we would become so much closer to God. We wouldn’t even think about what we gave up. Now in order to have this time with God, we do need to give something up, but that isn’t where it ends. It’s about where the heart is at. Are we giving things up because the world says we should on Lent? Or are you giving something up because that time would be better spent with our Heavenly Father?
In the verse in Jeremiah God doesn’t see the burnt offerings or sacrifices as important. He sees the heart of love and obedience for him as the important thing. To sum this all up, God doesn’t find his pleasure in the things we give up. God wants our heart. That is what Lent is about, the heart of the matter.