By Brooke Holt
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1
Whose affirmation have you sought to gain throughout your life? Is it from your mother, father, teachers, coaches, or friends? Seeking affirmation is not wrong, it is the way in which you seek affirmation that leads you astray. As God’s beloved child, he would have you seek his approval above all else. This season of Lent is a wonderful opportunity to reorient the ways in which you seek affirmation and approval in this life.
In the early church, the season of Lent served as a forty-day period to prepare the candidates for baptism. The early church used the same practices we heard in church on Ash Wednesday: self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, self-denial, reading and meditating on God’s Word. These good spiritual practices are designed to lead one closer to the Lord and deeper in the ways of the Spirit.
Surely, the Lord loves the spiritual practices of his church, right? Just as the nation of Israel was often reprimanded for going through the motions – praying, fasting, and bringing sacrifices before the Lord so would the Lord challenge you today. What is your Lenten spiritual discipline and why are you doing it? Are you seeking the affirmation of people or the affirmation of the Lord? Does your discipline lead you to godly humility or spiritual pride? Does your spiritual discipline glorify God or yourself?
We ask ourselves these important questions as the Lord has never delighted in his people going through the motions of religion. Instead, the Father looks for those who love him, seek to know him, glorify him, and to be transformed into the image of his Son. You have a choice here in this first week of Lent. You can seek the rewards of people or the rewards of the Father. What matters is the posture of your heart.
As you begin this holy season of Lent, ask the Lord to search your heart and to reveal your sinful desires and tendencies. Ask him to reveal the ways in which you still operate in the flesh instead of the Spirit, then ask for the Holy Spirit to empower you to choose his ways.
May this season be one in which you seek to truly grow in knowledge, love, and obedience to the Lord. That is what delights the heart of your Father and brings glory to his name here on earth. Practice these godly disciplines not for man but for the Father who will reward from heaven.
What is your Lenten spiritual discipline? Bring that before the Lord seeking his plans for you and his work in you. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
The Resurrected Life: Making All Things New - The Bible promises that those who are in Christ are "new creatures." But how does that transformation take place? This unique Easter-season small group Bible study provides a space in which we can discover what it truly means to live a new life. As we listen, we'll learn how the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything - for us. Begin the journey to new life today!
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