Jesus says, “Beware of practicing your piety before others…” Hmm. “Sort of flies in the face of putting ashes in the form of a cross on your forehead, doesn’t it?” There is no other ritual we use that is so public an expression of our faith than that which we do on Ash Wednesday! “Is that bad? “ “Hypocritical?” “Showy?”
You can’t tell [these days] if someone is a Christian by the cross they wear—a cross has become just a piece of jewelry. We don’t wear phylacteries [the little leather pouches containing scrolls with passages of scripture, used to fulfill the commandment to bind the commandments to our hands and between our eyes] as Jews do. Our women don’t wear burqas to cover themselves from head to foot as Muslim women do. But on this special Wednesday, (which marks the beginning of the season of Lent) we do show ourselves to be Christians as we reform the cross (water) which was etched on our foreheads in baptism, with ashes. And Jesus says, “Beware!” “What is Jesus’ concern?”
Jesus’ concern is not with “prideful showiness”, but a concern with empty ritual—external signs or actions of pious people that have no lasting value or meaning.
Our intentions this Lent are not to make an impression on others, but to make lasting changes that outlast the season of Lent. We are going to concentrate –not about the things we should give up, but rather the things we should take on.
So I caution you not to center your Lenten discipline on “Giving up something!” “Don’t Give Up…Take On!” Take on spiritual habits and disciplines that will shape your life for good!
Take on one or more of these activities:
Substitute TV time for time with a person who would welcome a visit.
“In everything give thanks.” Constructive criticism is OK, but “moaning, groaning, and complaining” are not Christian disciplines.
Be more concerned about being kind rather than right.
Get out of bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier than usual! Use that time in prayer, Bible study and personal devotion.
Worship every week.
Begin your day with my a devotionals. I will gladly send you one if you give me your email address!
Don’t give up! Take on!