“We live in a world of evaluations, assessments, and measurements, but Jesus turns his gaze deeper because he knows that what is measurable can be faked.” ~ Scot McKnight
When I was in third grade school, there were all sorts of methods employed by students to cheat on quizzes and tests. Writing answers on sticks of gum as well as on hands or arms was just one of the methods. Others were just as creative. I often thought that, if the students employed half the time studying as they did coming up with some of these schemes, they wouldn’t need to cheat.
Our sinful human nature reflects a propensity to cheat. It’s not good but it’s there. Many times, we grab at the opportunity to cheat and, when we do so, we not only reflect what is weak within us but we also fail to learn. After all, if we cheat, we never internalize the lesson.
Lent, for some, can be a cheater’s paradise. They can put on a good show but never truly embrace the season. I have often commented about Lent being an easy time for seafood lovers. There is not much sacrifice involved on Friday if someone who loves seafood goes out to a fancy seafood restaurant in order to “abstain” from meat. Since the seafood is no real sacrifice, the person merely follows the letter of the law — abstaining from meat — but not the spirit of the law which is penance. The seafood lover should opt for some other non-meat meal that is more of a sacrifice for that person.
Hence the body of McKnight’s quote. Jesus knows us intimately. He knows what we think and feel. He knows what we like and dislike. He knows what is sacrifice and what is not. We might be able to fool others — and maybe even ourselves — in our Lenten practices but we cannot fool the Lord. Therefore, don’t try to do so.
Immerse yourself into the spirit of the season of Lent. Embrace sacrifice as a way to draw closer to the Lord. Do what you need to do and refrain from what you need to refrain to reflect true repentance and a desire for closer union with God. He knows your heart and He will be pleased with true sacrifice.
FAITH ACTION: Make sure that your Lenten practices are being done for good, noble, sincere reasons and not merely for show.