Growing up Baptist, I didn’t have much exposure to Lent at the church I attended. Much of my limited knowledge of Lent came from the Ash Wednesday chapel services at my Episcopal elementary school. Once, I asked my mom about giving things up for Lent and she told me that she used Lent not as an opportunity to give something up, but rather as a chance to add something to her life.
Although today’s scripture passage mentions the sacrifice of Jesus, it is not explicitly about Easter. But even so, it reminds me of what my mother said to me about Lent. Not only does this scripture admonish us to give up negative behaviors, but it also suggests behaviors that we should add to our lives in the place of those negative things. For example, in verse 4:31, we are told to “get rid of bitterness, rage, and anger,” and then immediately after that in verse 4:32, we are told that we should instead “be kind and compassionate to one another.”
This year, let’s give up more than physical comforts like soda or chocolate for Lent. Let’s use Lent as the nudge we need to give up talking negatively about and to others. Let’s also add behavior that reflects God and God’s love.
Prayer: Lord, May we use this holy season to become more like you. Help us give up negative words and ways, and help us add compassion and kindness to our lives. Amen.
Jennifer West Freeman