Growing up in a Roman Catholic household, today (Ash Wednesday) marked the beginning of a season of Lent. Lent as observed by Catholic faith is the 40 days preceding Easter Sunday. During Lent, we would in essence make a sacrifice (by giving up of something we particularly enjoyed or liked) as an offering to God as a reminder of the many sacrifices God made for us.
As a child in a practicing Catholic family, we were always encouraged to give something up for lent as well as not to eat meat on Friday’s. I would often choose to give up things like watching television, eating ice cream or candy, and one time my cousins and I even gave up talking between certain hours of the day. Reflecting back on that time, it had no real spiritual significance in my life other than I thought that I was being a really good “religious person” because I was making this sacrifice for God. It also gave me bragging rights with my friends (which explains exactly where my heart was at the time).
Today as a follower of Christ, who I thought God was back then, is so very different from who I now know God to be. I used to believe I had to earn my way to God, but now I know that is an impossible feat (Ephesians 5:8-9). Because of God’s great love for me, He paid a debt he didn’t owe, because I had a debt I couldn’t pay. Salvation from my sin is a free gift from God, based purely on God’s finished work on the cross. Because Jesus shed his blood on the cross for my sin, I no longer have to sacrifice (as they did in the Old Testament) for my sins. Praise God! Jesus’ blood sacrifice paid my sin debt once and for all.
When we personally encounter God’s great love for us and His amazing grace towards us, it forever changes us. As children of the living God, he wants us to live in abandon to Him and all that He has for us. God no longer wants our sacrifice, he wants our hearts (Psalm 40:6). He wants us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices by daily laying aside our own wants and desires and for us to take up our cross and to daily follow him. In doing so we learn to daily trust Him to guide and direct us as we walk in obedience to Him. God’s great love for us compels our daily worshipful living for Him!
Thank you Lord Jesus for your amazing love for me and for paying the price for my sins so that I didn’t have to. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross that cancelled my sin debt. Help me to daily surrender all to you, so that I may live fully for you. Thank you for who you are and for all you do. To you be the Glory both now and forever. AMEN
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:8-10
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1