…”Beware of practicing your piety…in order to be seen… Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 What we do in the flesh and what we do in the spirit have nothing in common. One pleases the body, the other pleases God. Practicing hypocrisy occurs when what we want other people to see about us is not reconciled with what we don’t what others to see. God sees both the pride and the humility. In every situation, we do well to remember that God humbles the proud and lifts up the humble. The only grandstand that matters is the one where Christ is seated.
“I thought that for me he would surely come out… 2 Kings 5:1-19 Sometimes our arrogance gets in the way of the blessings God has for us. Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be! The graciousness of God’s grace does not require that we be someone of exaggerated importance, only that we are willing to seek His voice, trust his will and humbly walk in His way. Then we will receive all that he has already intended us to have.
“…if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash and be clean’?” 2 Kings 5:1-19
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 More than twenty plus years ago, I had a terrible “addiction” to potato chips. I didn’t realize how bad it was until one day I walked past a display of potato chip bags while in a Wawa store and my mouth started watering. I am not sure how long my body had been reacting this way, nor why on this particular day I somehow noticed it. But looking back on it, subconsciously I suppose it may have been because the season of Lent was approaching and I had been previously thinking that Lent had no real affect on me and was trying to decide whether I should have some participation in it that year. Up to that point the only thing I had ever done for Lent was to not eat meat on Fridays. I understand now that the reason this practice did not have any real affect on me was because it left fish in my diet and I loved eating fish, thus there was no sacrifice. To make maters worse, in spite of my Pavlovian response to the potato chip bags, I bought them anyway. A few days later after a scheduled doctor’s appointment, I had to come to grips with the fact that over one year I had gain 15 pounds and was heavier than I had ever been except for the time when I carried my children. It didn’t take me long to deduce that my eating habits were taking my body in a direction I knew I didn’t want to go. It was clear to me that salivating at the mouth was sign that I had been conditioned to the propensity for desiring potato chips. If I was going to achieve a healthier body, I needed to change my eating habits and potato chips were first on the list. Needless to say, Lent was tough for me that year – and yes I fell off the wagon, prayerfully only one time. But this is exactly what the season of Lent is about – consciously giving ourselves the opportunity to come face to face with our weaknesses and those things that have kept us from knowing more of God’s love for us – giving them over to God totally and completely – replacing our desire for the physical with our desire for the spiritual – forgiving ourselves when we fall – and returning with a repentant heart towards a forgiving God who is nothing less than gracious, merciful and abounding in steadfast love.
Something as delightful as a bag of potato chips had become an obstacle albeit a small one, but nonetheless and obstacle to my health. It’s easy to do in this world. But weaning ourselves off of physical things we have conditioned ourselves to become servants to is necessary if we intend to be servants of Christ. Like Paul we sometimes must commend (accept) ourselves in humility – in order that we may obtain the ultimate reward; as Paul says – having nothing and yet possessing everything.
May He who came into the world to save sinners – strengthen each of us through this season and beyond to complete the fast with humility, share in the feast of his grace and mercy upon us – and in the end, raise us up into his glory. AMEN