As I was reviewing some memory verses lately, Ephesians 4:29 stopped me in my tracks. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)
With Ash Wednesday approaching, it dawned on me that in view of God’s mercy to me through the cross, I could offer my words as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God as a spiritual act of worship. Not conforming any longer to the pattern of this world (which justifies the flinging of letters under the guise of “personal expression” and “freedom of speech”), but - wow - to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. (Rom. 12:1-2, NIV, not word for word) What would happen if I truly thought about what I was going to say before I said it? Thought about how those words will make an impact. Will they be a relational withdrawal, will they take a piece away from that person’s (fragile?) God-made image? Or will they be words that build that person up and benefit them in their walk with Christ?
I have “given up things for lent” many a times in the past. And the discipline of this fasting has proven beneficial in different ways (Hopefully I will have a future post on my fasting experiences). In years of late I have strove to have my mindset be more of a sacrifice in order to redirect my thoughts onto the deep, painful sacrifice of my Savior on my behalf – something I too often take for granted. When I am tempted in that specific way, make the suffering of Jesus for my sake be my focus, instead of that temporal satisfaction. This transforming of my mind has proven more challenging than the actual "giving it up" itself.
And yet, it’s only a day in to this sacrificial fast and already three times the type of words I committed to giving up are the words that have poured out of this fount which can’t decide if it wants to house fresh water or salt water! (James 3) Oh, dear brothers and sisters, these things ought not to be so…thank you, Jesus, for your righteous work on the cross for me.
I exhort you in this spiritual act of worship – Go before God and seek Him for Guidance in what He would want you to sacrifice in order to draw closer in intimacy with Him. What part of you would you willingly lay on the altar, the refiner’s fire, in order for Him to take away the impurities and re-create you to look a little more like His Suffering Servant-Son, Jesus?