Devotional: What I Added for Lent
Hebrews 4:15- For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet He did not sin. NIV
I have a list of my sins, thirty to be exact. I’m sure that’s a fraction of what I commit, but I think all I am guilty of have roots leading back to those thirty.
Last year in deciding what to give up for Lent, a message in our pastor's sermon suggested we consider adding something. That got me thinking of how I sometimes skim over my lists of sins as I pray each morning. So I decided to pay closer attention during Lent and focus on one sin a day. My goal was to try as hard as I could not to commit that sin for at least one day. The next day I would focus on a different one on the list.
My thirty sins are registered in no particular order. In fact every year I rewrite them, scrambling them into a different sequence so the list will remain fresh. If God convicts my heart of something new as He did this year - missing opportunities to serve Him - I add it as well.
The first thing on my list this year was the sin of being cynical. I don’t like the definition of a cynic: one who is faultfinding, a critic, especially one who believes human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest. Ugh! Why did God convict me of that unless, oh no, he sees that behavior in me. I know how it feels for someone to always find fault. It's uncomfortable, sometimes humiliating. But okay, for one day, I can focus on that sin and try hard to see the best in people.
I think the toughest sins for me to avoid are: having a wicked heart, which seems to come with being a human, being judgmental, overeating, being prideful or arrogant, not trusting God, overspending, and being prejudiced. That’s a quarter of my list that I confess to having major trouble with. I cringe as I give an inventory of them here, wanting to shy away from giving others a peek into my heart. But perhaps they aren't as well concealed as I think they are.
Then there are the ones that slip up on me, like coveting. I don’t long for the new car my neighbor has even though my vehicle is old, but I might covet someone else’s success in writing without even thinking about it until God convicts my heart. Other times I forget who's in charge as I gradually push God to the side and make Linda the god of my life. Oh, and the one of missing opportunities to serve God. I usually kick myself around a good bit for that because it’s a sin of omission instead of commission. An opportunity presents itself. I don’t pay close enough attention, and the chance is past.
Satan is far smarter and sneakier than me. He sets a trap, I fall into it, and I’ve sinned. Just like that. What would I do without the cleansing blood of Christ? How would I have any hope if Christ hadn’t been willing to pay the price for my sins?
I’m so thankful Christ was willing to live among us, his life a perfect example without sin. I’m awed that God loved me enough to send His son to the cross to die for my sins even though it must have broken His heart, especially as Jesus cried out in the garden and on the cross.
The practice of closely examining one sin each day isn’t easy. I don't enjoy having to take a hard look at myself. However, it does give me a bit of an edge as Satan sneaks in and tosses those seemingly harmless thoughts or deeds before me. So, thank you, Pastor Paul for your good advice. I think adding something for Lent was exactly what I needed to do.
Merciful Lord, thank you for loving me enough to dust me off each day, cleansing me of my sins and offering me a new opportunity to serve You as the woman I should be. Amen.