What to Give Up For Lent

2/24/2012

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No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

From “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend  

Once again, Lenten season is upon us. Perhaps your tradition, like so many others, is to choose something to give up. What shall it be? Alcohol? Fast food? Chocolate?

How about giving up guilt? Read again the familiar lyrics at the top of the page. No guilt in life, no fear in death. Ironically, as Christians some of us have actually been able to live without constant fear of death—desiring so strongly to meet Christ and knowing that it’s is a whole lot better in Heaven than it is here. Guilt, however, paralyzes us. It’s like a constant IV drip of poison.

How powerful is guilt? Since we all have it and are all trying to get rid of it, some denominations have seized upon the opportunity and actually use guilt, convincing you that you should feel guilty and advising you that their building is the best place to try to get rid of it. It’s like the drug dealer who gives you just a little for free, knowing that you’ll return to him to buy some later.

Can we actually give up guilt? Just think how much you could accomplish without that yoke weighing you down! You could walk or run with steps so light they would hardly touch the ground. Is it ok to repent of a sin and ask God for forgiveness in order to begin this process? The answer is found in Psalm 103:12:

And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. –The Message

A more familiar translation is “as far as the east is from the west.” Either way, God has already forgotten your transgressions! So why do you let your guilt burden you still? If your mortgage company called and said, “Hello, Mr. or Mrs. Mortgageholder, due to blah blah blah the balance of your mortgage is now zero dollars and zero cents!” would you keep sending in your monthly check? Or course not!

I’m not suggesting you don’t feel bad when you sin, or that you should feel no regret. Of course you should. But that’s a good time to talk to God about it and the people you’ve wronged so that you can go about making things right…and then lead the guilt-free life that Christ so desires for you.

So who wants you to be so saturated with guilt that you can’t tell if the sun is rising or setting? Our pastors? Your family and friends? The people next to you in the pew? Yourself? No. Our Enemy, that’s who! “Who are you to think you have something to offer?” he’ll whisper, “Remember what you've done?”  With God’s help, this whispering won’t even reach your ears. It’ll be like someone in New Jersey whispering to someone in California. East from West.

If you decide to give up something for Lent this year, consider guilt. That’s a harder one that chocolate for most of us. So when our Enemy approaches with a big chocolate bunny, tell him you’re standing in the power of Christ. And watch it melt!

 

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