Monday, March 2
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by Grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works, lest anyone should boast.
James 2:17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
Of Coffee and Lent
“What did you give up for Lent?” Many years ago, when I first started to become active in Church, this was a frequent question heard in early February. Lenten Sacrifices were compared and discussed, and the relative significance of the “sacrifice” became a badge of honor. I even had a good friend that joked every year that he was going to give up brussel sprouts for Lent. I’m sure God was not particularly pleased.
I remember one of those years I gave up coffee for Lent. I loved coffee! Bought the beans green and roasted them myself; ground them in my own grinder. So I thought giving up coffee for Lent would be a worthy sacrifice. Now if you’ve ever suddenly eliminated caffeine from your diet, you know the results can be persistent headaches. “Wait a minute! This is definitely not what I signed up for.” I thought I would just have to go without coffee for a few weeks and that would be it. Actual suffering, even though it was just some annoying headaches, wasn’t part of my deal. Oh my! God does move in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. My lesson concerning the true meaning of Lent was somewhat painful, but well learned. Lenten sacrifices aren’t to be shared or bragged about. They are something to be honored between God and me.
Paul understood this and passed it on to the believers at Ephesus when he told them salvation came from the Grace of God and given as a gift; it couldn’t be earned so no one could brag about how they earned Salvation through their good works. But then James takes this truth one step further when he tells us that faith must be accompanied by works, because faith without works is dead. Good works should naturally proceed from faith and acceptance of the gift of Salvation. I still love coffee, but every year during Lent, I try to remember that year I gave it up, and the spiritual understanding I eventually came away with.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of my salvation. Help me to always remember that it is a gift from You. May I live my life in a way that is pleasing in Your sight. Amen