Open Your Bible
Hebrews 12:3-13, Psalm 6:1-10
Text: Hebrews 12:3-13, Psalm 6:1-10
“Self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We, your She Reads Truth writers and friends, are learning as we go. I hope that’s okay to say out loud, because it’s true. We are learning about this beautiful book—the living Word of God—alongside you, opening it up each day and praying to the God who made us. We come to the Bible knowing and believing that the Holy Spirit has been given to us as our Helper, that He has been promised to us by the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Savior. This is who we are—like you, we are daughters of the King. We come empty-handed, expecting Him to give us all we need.
In preparing for this reading plan that spans the season of Lent (we like to call it “lententide” because it’s such a pretty word), we went to folks who know more than us for help. We called on pastors and friends, we read books and researched themes. It is part of our “job” and we LOVE it. So much. One resource we consulted was a book on the liturgical calendar called Eternity Today, and the author said this about Lent:
“What can be lost in this season is that, though believers indeed ‘fast and pray,’ they often do this not more aware of the love of God, but assuming that they need to win God’s favor…
“Lent is unique in the liturgical year because the members of the church conscientiously turn from excesses not to remind God of humanity, but to remind themselves of the constancy of God’s love.”
I’m a sucker for all things old and liturgical. I love corporate readings in church services, sacraments and hymnals. I love studying Lent and just about anything else that reminds me I’m part of a body of believers who have been worshipping our God for hundreds and hundreds of years. But do I “do” Lent as obligation or to be a part of a centuries-old ritual? Do I do Lent to win God’s favor? I would never say so… but turning this quote and these Scriptures over in my heart and mind, I’m not so sure.
If I’m completely honest, I have to admit that I hope—or maybe even believe—my small sacrifices make God love me a little bit more. I hope they’ll erase some of those selfish things I did that I wish I could take back. I hope they’ll cover over my neglect of those in need, my lack of compassion for the hardships of others. If I’m honest, I think Lent buys me an ounce of forgiveness and favor in the eyes of God.
Here’s the rub: this belief is not just a simple misunderstanding. It is itself a sinful pride that devalues the very blood of Christ. He has purchased my pardon! He is the righteousness that covers my sin! He is the One who has earned God’s favor, and He is the reason that favor is lavished on me.
Our need for Jesus is deep, but His love for us is deeper. His love for us is constant, whatever season and state we’re in. He redeems us and refines us because of this great love, not because of what we do.
We come to Christ with empty buckets — whether we admit it or not. So let’s not bring our self improvements and call them sacrifices. Let’s don’t use our efforts as currency to buy the free grace we’ve been given.
Let’s simply come to the cross of Christ — again, today.
Let’s come empty. He will fill us.