Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
Here is a beautiful thought—It’s Not What You Give Up This Lent, It’s Who You Become.
Next week is the final week of Lent for 2021—which began on Wednesday, February 17 and ends on Saturday, April 3. Lent is a 40-day period (not including Sundays) that lead up to Easter. It is meant to be a time of renewal, self-sacrifice, denial, and repentance.
On Ash Wednesday—I shared a challenge message that asked: Have you been thinking about what to give up for Lent?
After sharing on social media the final message on the last day of the challenge series—I felt Jesus calling me to go deeper. My desire to deny myself and give up things during Lent was the invitation he knew I needed.
Who we become is driven by desire—whether it is the desire to take up our cross and follow Jesus or whether it is the desire for sinful actions—it all begins with desire.
James 1:15 says, These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
We all are familiar with sinful desires that lead us away from God. In a culture taught to say “yes” to the comforts and pleasures of our wants and desires—the practice of self-denial is uncomfortable, but necessary to become more like Jesus and necessary to take up our cross and follow him.
My desire to deny myself included giving up things for Lent that I had been pondering—like social media. Though my time on social media is minimal—posting ministry events, devotionals and connecting with others—it was the first thing I chose to give up.
Jesus knew that my free time without social media is what he was after for me to gain spiritual awareness and clarity in ways I never expected.
Little did I know that giving up social media was only the beginning—from small denials to large denials—Jesus has been inviting me to a time of self-denial to become a better version of myself for my good and his glory.
With one week remaining in Lent—how is Jesus inviting you to deny yourself? Is there a sin he wants you to deny with the help of the Holy Spirit? Or what is Jesus inviting you to give up?
Jesus is constantly sending invitations—especially during Lent—to go beyond the shallow to seek out the deep places he is wanting you to become.
Take time to reflect in the journal those desires that lead you away from God or take you away from making Jesus a priority. Embrace who Jesus is inviting you to become rather than focusing on denying yourself or what you are giving up.
Prayer: Lord, help each of us to deny ourselves—to give up things—even if it is the last week of Lent—so that we can each experience a personal resurrection on Easter Sunday and make Resurrection Day more beautiful than it has ever been.