This morning I’m going to wash my daughter’s sippi-cups (or however you spell those things). But it may be that I’m going to be as good a dishwasher as I am a speller!
(Photo credit: .imelda)
Why’s that? Because I’m only going to wash the outside her cups. After all, it’s the outside that has all of the pictures that she likes to look at. And no one else can see the inside so they’ll think I did a good job. And it’s only the outside that I have to touch so why would I bother with the inside??? Maybe because the inside is what she’s actually going to be drinking from!!!
What if we treated our lives the way I talked about treating my daughter’s dirty dishes? What if we only spent time cleaning up ourselves on the outside spiritually speaking? What if we made sure that we appeared to be spotless to the eyes of others but the inside of our heart acted, reacted and thought in a completely opposite way? If we did that then we’d hear:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.” (Matthew 23:25-26)
If it makes no sense to only wash the outside of dirty dishes then why would it make any sense to only have a desire to appear righteous? After all, isn’t it the inside that holds what’s important?
“Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:19-22)
I’m no protestant, but has the “protestant” world all but completely forgotten what and who they originally protested??? It seems like more and more I see signs in churchyards and hear people talking about what they’re going to do (or not do) for “Lent.” Sadly, even members of the Lord’s church have gotten caught up in this outward display of religious ignorance!
The Bible doesn’t have much to say about “Lent” but it does say enough to be clear:
“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations – “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:20-23)
Do we get it? Outward restrictions don’t correct inward sins! “Lent” is the first thing I think of when I read Colossians 2:20-23 and then think of the religious world today. There is no biblical principle for this manmade doctrine. You don’t live it up on “Fat Tuesday” to give it up on “Ash Wednesday!” Sackcloth and ashes never changed a heart! Forty days of neglecting our self is not the same as forty days in the wilderness. Biblical prayer and fasting and “Lent” are not the same thing. One is about devotion to God and the other is about devotion to values that have no true value against wicked and sinful indulgences. It’s not what does or doesn’t go into the mouth that affects a person’s relationship with God – it’s what does or doesn’t come out of the heart that affects one’s relationship with God (Matthew 15:1-20). Depriving the body doesn’t equal feeding the soul! Never has, never will.
If something is not sinful it does not have to be given up to improve our relationship with God – but if something is sinful we best not wait for a time of self-imposed religion to correct something that needs to be addressed immediately. In other words, don’t wait for the “preparation of the Holy Week” to start living a Holy Life (1 Peter 1:13-16).
If you’re still looking for something to give up, my answer would be that the best thing to give up for “Lent” is “Lent” itself!