In an excellent article on Lent, The God Article looks at the practice of giving up something in honour of the sacrifice of Jesus. I have always been appreciative of the practice of self-sacrifice as a spiritual discipline, and I believe it is still a valuable part of the church’s (and the Christ-follower’s) year-long journey. However (and this is a major “however”), I feel, like prayer, giving and fasting, giving up something for Lent is something you do privately–something only yourself and God know. That is the critical difference between what is a path to spiritual awareness or growth and simply another New Year’s resolution.
“So, why are those kinds of things what we most frequently give up for Lent? I’d say it’s because the way we practice Lent has turned it into nothing more than a time for religious New Year’s resolutions. The timing is perfect too. We’ve had just enough time to not follow through on our actual New Year’s resolutions and to start feeling guilty about it. Lent gives us a second chance to not follow through… um, I mean succeed.” (Read the entire article here.)
So whether or not I choose to give up something for Lent, I won’t be publicising it. That will be a matter between God and me. Whatever I do, I know it won’t have any impact on the love God has for me or on God’s acceptance of me, so I will feel no guilt if I fail. Disappointment? Maybe. Shame? No. Because it’s not about perfection, but about a heart that is moving in the right direction.