1 Timothy 4:7-8 and Spirit Building

CrossofashesHappy Ash Wednesday!

This is the official lead-in to Lent 2015.  Throughout the coming weeks, Christians are preparing to go to the Cross with Jesus on Good Friday and celebrate the Empty Tomb on Easter Sunday.  Some Christians will have many more days of commemoration interspersed during this season, and some will barely register this is a season.

If you want to have fun, ask your pastor how many days are in Lent and why.  Lent is one of those points within the Church that prove Christians can not count.  The season is 40 days, just as Jesus’ time of preparation in the wilderness was 40 days, but the only way to get to that number is to either not count Sundays or to not count the last week of Lent (from Palm Sunday to Easter).

Some people make it a practice of fasting or “giving up something” during Lent.  This can be as extreme as some branches of the Church that encourage people to give up almost half of what would be a normal diet to something much more personal and targeted (chocolate, tv, caffeine, etc.)  Why give up something?  Paul gives us some encouragement on this issue:

Train yourself for a holy life!  While physical training has some value, training in holy living is useful for everything. It has promise for this life now and the life to come.

Just as body building requires discipline–you have to be committed to exercising and not consuming things that are bad for your bodies–spirit building requires discipline.  Lent is an intense time in the Christian year to be committed to prayer and Scripture, and to deny ourselves things that are spiritually harmful.  Does this mean that chocolate is spiritually harmful?  Only if you are literally addicted to it.

The reality is that we fast things that are good.  They are not morally evil in and of themselves.  We do this to strengthen our souls.  If we can learn to deny ourselves good things, then when we are confronted with temptation to sin, we can deny ourselves the “pleasure” of committing that sin.  Lent is a time of spiritual workout designed to strengthen our spiritual muscles.

Just as Paul said, our physical bodies will only serve us for so long, then they will wear out and stop working (die).  Our spirits will continue on and receive a new physical body in the resurrection at the end of all things.  What we do to work out our physical bodies will ultimately dissolve into dirt and dust.  What we do to work out our spirits will have eternal ramifications.

This Lent commit to spirit building.  Exercise your spiritual muscles by giving up something.  You will be glad that you did.

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