What parent has not been the brunt of a child’s anger when they have had to discipline them or deny them of something they wanted to do? The parent is accused of being hateful or unloving. Or sometimes its the response, “everyone else is doing it, why can’t I?”. We know the very opposite is true. The parent is not being hateful or unloving. It is because of love that the parent sets boundaries, and denies certain things that can be harmful. We want the best for them. The same thing is true when we, as Christians, speak out against behaviors and actions that Scripture says are harmful, particularly those involving human sexuality. Many centuries ago King Solomon wrote, “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”(Proverbs 14:12) God is our Father. When He has set boundaries for our lives in his Holy Word, He has done it out of love and for our best good. When we uphold those values it is because of His love we desire all people to know.
There were many time when God was angry with His people and had to discipline them. They were on the wrong path, a path that would only lead to their hurt. They couldn’t see it while they were worshiping their idol or whatever else it was that violated God’s commands. They were having a good time, thinking everything was fine, not realizing the hurt they were causing themselves and others. They were surprised when the discipline came. Solomon wrote in his Proverbs, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”(14:12) This is all true for individuals as well as for nations. God has shown us a way of life that is good. He has given us laws and values for our well being. When we choose to ignore God’s laws we get ourselves into trouble and discipline comes in one form or another. Maybe by an authority over us, maybe by the natural course of our sin. The Hebrews writer wrote, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”(12:11) God has provided a way for us to return by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. It is always God’s desire that we know the “harvest of righteousness” in life, and a depth of His peace.
What are you giving up for Lent? Personally, I can’t say I’m giving up anything. I know it can be a helpful discipline. Any spiritual discipline is intended to help us focus more on our Lord. That is always valuable. I’m just saying it really hasn’t worked for me. I guess I’m not disciplined or focused enough. But I also find that what Jesus is asking me to give up is far greater than a few meals, or other pleasures. Jesus said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”(Matthew 10:37-39) Jesus’ call is for total devotion. He will settle for nothing less than my whole life. And giving Him the whole of my life is a daily struggle. That is really my discipline for Lent. It is not easy, and I don’t do it well, but Lent reminds me that my Lord loves and wants all of my life.