Today is day two of week seven, reading the Bible through together in a year. Our scriptures today are Exodus 35-37; Phil 4; Psalm 26. In keeping with the season of Lent, I want to focus briefly on Philippians 4:11b-13:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I
know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I
have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
During Lent, many people are fasting. Whether that means you've given up TV or bread products or cussing or your cell phone, you may be feeling like you've had to do without something that you're used to. A sense of lack is what makes most people break their fasts. They start out with good intentions, but then the sense of lack kicks in, and they say to themselves, "I don't really need to give up __________ . This is a silly exercise. What good does it do to deprive myself?"
Well, you should understand that Lent isn't about self-denial for the sake of self-denial. It's about giving up those things that have a hold on your heart, that have become idols and obstacles to your obedience to God. By breaking your fast during Lent, you've decided that those things are really more important to you than your commitment to God was, when you began your fast.
Fasting is about choosing your focus. It's about making a decision not to focus on your hunger pangs or your ringing phone or the TV show that somebody else is watching right now. It's about finding contentment in Christ, rather than depending on devices or food or drink or something else for your comfort.
Paul says that he has learned contentment in every situation, whether he has enough or whether provisions are scarce. Fasting is about regaining that kind of contentment, and understanding that God's grace is enough for us.
I pray that during this season, you'll keep your Lenten fast--or, that if you haven't already begun one, you'll consider what idol you can give up, so you can find your contentment in Christ.