Today’s post is written by Pastor Ben Oesterling. Concordia’s Chaplaincy Department actively contributes to our resident’s well-being, especially during the Lenten season. Enjoy!
Have you ever asked the question, “what is the point of giving something up for Lent?” Does this act by itself make us more Holy? Does it earn us some kind of heavenly points? Of course, we know that is not the case.
The purpose of fasting from something in our lives is not to impress God or even other people with our great will power or to show them how holy we are. In fact, our Lord tells us that when we are “fasting” from something, no one else should really even be able to tell.
In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus says, “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
But what is our reward for fasting? What is the purpose? What is it that we are really seeking when we remove something from our lives for a period of time?
Fasting in the Scriptures was always about grieving, repentance and seeking God. When we “fast” we are looking for a closer connection with the Lord Jesus Christ. Walking closely with Him is our reward. You see, God loves you and he wants a real relationship with you. He wants to connect with you personally but like any other relationship, close connection doesn’t happen by accident. We must be intentional.
If I find that I am not as close to my wife as I once was then I may need to make some changes. I might need to remove some things in my life that have distracted me from our relationship. This may involve not bringing work home with me for a while, taking some time off from a hobby or even just leaving the TV off in the evenings in order to focus more on talking with her and re-connecting. I might need to apologize to her about letting some of these things take my time away from her. A good marriage doesn’t happen by chance. It takes work. It takes being intentional.
The same is true for our relationship with God. A close walk with Christ doesn’t happen by accident either. This world is full of distractions. Our enemy doesn’t need us to fall into some terrible sin in order to put out our gospel light. He is content with us living a distracted life away from our Lord. That is why during this season especially we grieve our sin and repent and contemplate removing something from our lives that might help us to focus more on the Lord Jesus Christ and seeking His Holy face.
Remember, a close relationship never happens by accident. It takes intentional thought and action. So, let’s take some time this season to make sure that we are being intentional about our walk with the Lord!
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