I gave up red meat once, but my family made me promise never to do such a thing again. They were all quite tired of “Family Spaghetti Night” with runny red sauce. Where’s the beef?
I gave up caffeine for Lent too. Three years in a row. But as soon as the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection was over, I was drinking a Mountain Dew again faster than you could say, “Hallelujah!”
But this year, no inspiration came.
Well, a thought did occur to me. But I shrugged it off.
Then the same thought kept tugging at me. But it was too much. So I studied my Bible and prayed and listened — for something else.
It wouldn’t go away though. I heard His voice, not audibly, but gently calling me to sacrifice words. That’s right. Words!
I sensed God calling me to sacrifice the kind of words that seek to explain and justify. Basically, I needed to give up the desire to make sure everyone understands me, which is really the desire to control what other people think of me.
Lent is a time of preparation. And the more I have focused on the cross, the more I have realized that Jesus sacrificed His words too.
While standing before the high priest . . .
“The high priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’” (Matthew 26:62).
“But Jesus remained silent” (Matthew 26:63).
While standing before Pilate . . .
“Then Pilate asked him, ‘Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?’” (Matthew 27:13).
“But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge — to the great amazement of the governor” (Matthew 27:14).
While standing before Herod . . .
“[Herod] plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer” (Luke 23:9).
Jesus could have rebuked his accusers with the Truth. He could have called upon legions of angels to rescue Him. But He sacrificed His words instead. He gave up His right to prove them wrong. Because proving Himself right was not as important as obeying His Father’s call.
His Father had a bigger plan — bigger than personal justification, bigger than personal comfort, and bigger than personal popularity.
The Father’s plan — to offer forgiveness to the very ones who accused Him — included you and me.
Jesus sacrificed everything, including His words.
For Lent this year, I have tried to give up words — the kind that attempt image control. God said to let that go. Just obey. And let Him lead, trusting that He has a bigger plan in mind.
This sacrifice of words has taught me that being right isn’t as important as being obedient.
Have you ever given up something for Lent?
What did you learn about Christ through your practice of sacrifice?