The period leading up to Easter which we call Lent reminds us of Jesus’ time in the wilderness, and can also remind us of the need for self-sacrifice – as we seek to follow in his footsteps.
However, if we’re not careful it can also be a contradictory time. For example, in Matthew 6 Jesus describes fasting as something which is ‘done in secret’ by his followers (6:18, NIV), and yet perhaps we’ve not always been shy about telling others we’ve given up chocolate or whatever for Lent!
We don’t have to fast during Lent (in fact we’re not commanded to fast on any particular day of the year), but Jesus’ teaching for when we do fast should remind us that such things should always come out of our relationship with God, not out of a desire to be seen as holy by others, or out of merely following a tradition, or as a way of ‘earning’ God’s favour (as if that were possible!).
In our walk with Jesus, let’s remember those words we often use in confession, which remind us of how personal and humble our faith should be: ‘To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8, NIV)
And that humble walking with our God – whether during Lent or not – is of course only possible because of the Easter story: Christ’s death for sins and resurrection.
In Jesus’ name