Remember Who You Are
If you ask me what my favorite holiday is, I would have to say Christmas. The lights and snow brightening up the dark winter nights and the prospect of hope entering the world are the main reasons. Perhaps it also has something to do with the fact my birthday is the day before. But, I’m realizing the importance of Easter far more. You see, without Easter, Christmas would have no point. We’d probably celebrate it just as much as Christopher Columbus Day. Without the climax of Jesus’ resurrection, his birth is hardly significant.
For a part of my life, I lived in a very Catholic town. Once a year, they would go to church so the priest could rub some dirt on their forehead. One year, a friend of mine came into work like this, and I tried to discreetly point it out. They had to explain to me it was Ash Wednesday. The mark of dust, ashes from burned palm branches, is to signify repentance and humility. It’s traditionally followed by 40 days of fasting before Easter (skipping Sundays). If we desire to walk in a deeper relationship with God this year, it must start with eager humility.
After the instillation of Lent, a holiday arose the day before Ash Wednesday- Mardi Gras. If you’re curious, it’s a French word that literally means Fat Tuesday. The concept behind it is, let’s engross ourselves in as much feasting and sinful practice before we’re required to give it up. And it’s disgusting. Jesus tells us in Revelation 3:19, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Don’t look back or begrudge sacrificing to God. I do encourage you to find something to fast from as the Easter season approaches- my family will be abstaining from pork, and I personally have been abstaining from foods with added sugar since the beginning of the year. That being said, if your heart isn’t fully in the sacrifice you’re going to give, don’t do it. In Acts chapter 5, we read about a married couple who decided to half-heartedly give a gift to God and were immediately struck dead. If God spoke to you of a sin in your life that you need to repent of, chuck it as far as possible. It’s a grenade waiting to explode.
Humbling yourself before the Lord is unpleasant and uncomfortable. None of us like admitting we were wrong. I remember one day as a child, I was home without parental supervision and I tried to microwave a leftover burger for myself. I had failed to realize the burger had a foil wrapper on it. When it started sparking, I immediately opened the microwave and attempted to clean up the mess the best I could. The next day, my mom went to use the microwave, and couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working. I didn’t tell her what I had done until I had moved out. By that point, we just laughed it off. But unlike my mother, God already knows what you’ve done. We have two choices set before us: humility or humiliation.
Humility is a mindset where we think of ourselves rightly before God and others. Humiliation is imposed upon us by others, including God. In Genesis chapter 4, we read about two brothers, Cain and Abel. They both worked and brought offerings to God. When Abel brought his offering, he made sure to bring the best of the best before God. It was a true sacrifice. On the other hand, Cain brought God a half-hearted gift of random crops. Upset with the praise Abel received from God, Cain killed his brother. God then speaks to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” (v. 9a). Cain had a choice. To be humble and admit to God his sin or to be humiliated. Cain became defensive and chose to be humiliated. God revealed to Cain that He knew what happened and put a curse on him as punishment.
As a nation, we are enslaved to our lustful desires. Gluttony. Infidelity. Slander. Lies. Gossip. But Jesus is waiting for us to shove our face in the dirt and realize that we are created from dust and ashes and to dust and ashes our bodies will return. But there’s hope. “Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 34:27. God instituted peace for that generation that humbled themselves. Let us, therefore, humble ourselves like little children so that we may be great in Heaven (Matthew 18:4).
“Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
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