Thursday, March 8, 2018

Should Christians Practice Lent?

I was recently asked by a couple of Christian men about the biblical purpose of Lent and whether or not Christians should be practicing it.  Many Protestants are not familiar with the term due to the fact that many of them don't practice it.  The Lent season (approximately 46 days, not counting Sundays) began in the 4th century and it was a period of time that was used for fasting, eating in moderation, or self-denial of something special.  Lent would begin on Ash Wednesday and last all the way until Easter Sunday.  For some who practice Lent, they may choose to refrain from smoking, eating meat, eating chocolate, not drinking coffee, or even turning off their television for a time.  It was a way of practicing self-denial of something special that meant something to an individual in hopes of gaining a greater measure of grace or blessing from God.

However, the Bible teaches that grace cannot be earned and it is the free gift of God (Eph. 2:8, Rom. 5:17).  Lent is encouraged as a sacrament in which believers receive an extra measure of grace or blessing.  No place in Scripture are Christians asked or told to practice Lent.  In fact, God's love for us cannot be any greater than it already is by practicing some act of self-denial.  Jesus Christ is the fullness of God's goodness towards us.  In Scripture Jesus encouraged those who desired to practice fasting to do so privately and not to make it a public matter in order to receive the accolades of others (Matthew 6:16-18).   Ash Wednesday (the beginning day of the Lent season) is the day that ashes are placed upon one's forehead to express their humility and penitent heart towards God. 

There is nothing at all wrong with fasting.  In fact, God desires that we walk in humility towards Him as a lifestyle.  His desire is that Christians are constantly aware of sin that exists in their lives and that they seek to walk in holiness every day of the year and not just during Lent season.  Lent should not be a time for us to boast of our sacrifice for God rather we should boast in the cross of Jesus Christ alone.  Christians are free to practice Lent if they feel so led to do so but they should always have a repentant heart and a life bathed in holiness.

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