With inspiration from a recent piece on business written by Ryan Estis
Here during the Lenten season, many people are inspired to do something – or not do something - as a sacrifice in the spirit of the ultimate sacrifice that Christ made nearly 2,000 years ago.
For some that means giving up something during the 40 day commemoration. Have you tried these?
“I won’t eat meat.” Or “I won’t touch a drop of alcohol.” Maybe “I won’t get another spiffy cup of coffee until after Easter.”
Some people might shrug their shoulders at those, big deal. But for some those are real sacrifices, things they like to do normally but not during Lent this year
A thought – there are many ways to sacrifice and not all of them mean giving up food or stuff.
What about giving up your time?
Ah, time. Always difficult to quantify. After all we ALL have time, right? Some people have wealth and others don’t, some folks get the spiffy coffee and others don’t…
But TIME – we all have that. Perhaps it’s the great equalizer. Everyone has 24 hours in their day, no matter who you are, no matter where you are. No one gets shortchanged, no one somehow acquires MORE time. You can’t dig up more time, or hide it away in a box or a vault.
The old line works here – you use it or you lose it. And how you use those 24 hours in a day is really up to you. You might think your boss at work demands what you do with your time but it’s actually your call on HOW you use it.
So – how WILL you use your time during this religious season?
This fits perfectly into the tradition of “giving up something for Lent.” And it also fits perfectly with our Gospel teachings.
We all know Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the Cross. In our Lenten tradition that’s a few weeks down the road. But until Holy Week we need to look at how Jesus sacrificed His time to frequently help others.
The Gospels note a long list of actions by the Lord, too many to list here. Healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, feeding 5,000 people from just a little bread and fish. Raising the dead, comforting others, inspiring those less fortunate that God is alive and always with you.
This was the Son of God, after all. In many religious traditions around the globe it was the people who were always giving to a god or gods. Those other deities reigned supreme from some high place, wanting to be appeased by their lowly worshipers.
The Jews of Jesus’ time were waiting for the promised messiah, some all-powerful leader who would throw off the shackles of domination from Rome and restore Israel to its former greatness, and probably a greatness extending over all other nations.
Then this itinerant preacher shows up claiming to be The One but without an army, without evident superpowers, without wealth or fame or real connection. And his constant theme of helping others, of being the servant rather than the conqueror, of giving rather than taking – that was just crazy talk to many.
Worse yet, in their eyes it was blasphemy – and that kind of blasphemy had to be dealt with. Hence the trail to Good Friday.
Jesus used His time on Earth to reach out to others, comfort others, support others. And perhaps that is what WE are called to do during this and every Lenten season.
But we’re human – and that means that sometimes even the best of us get tired of giving. We feel like we bring taken advantage of by others who could do more. Or perhaps the word “tired” is the key word. Depending on your health situation maybe it doesn’t take much to run out of steam.
And it’s during times like those that we miss a key element of sacrifice. When you give to others, ultimately it helps YOU.
Sound too wild? You’re the one doing the work, going the extra mile, maybe feeling every ache and pain along the way.
But it’s true. And for starters, think of every time you gave a gift to someone not because you were somehow obligated to give a gift (think Christmas for most people) but because you really WANTED to gift them. You felt a need to reach out to help someone else.
And you gave them the gift and got a reaction anywhere from a wide smile and a look of surprise or relief, to unbridled happiness and joy. And a bunch of Thank You’s afterward.
Do you remember how you felt? You were the one sacrificing while the other person got the spoils. But the warmth of their reaction spilled all over you and gave you that feeling of love and accomplishment inside.
The evidence is clear that heartfelt sacrifice is good not only for the recipient but also for the giver.
Here’s a story from the website of Providence Health System on the West Coast – giving to others has a positive impact on your own physical and mental health. It’s true.
From Ryan Estis, a business coach and inspirational speaker – he shared a story from his own experience about how one simple person in an out-of-the-way spot affected him deeply and taught him a lesson he shares frequently with others. Watch this brief YouTube video to see what he means.
And the Good Book certainly has plenty of examples. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Galatia in modern day Turkey, offered this advice to the new church members there…
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9 NIV
In a time when early Christians were being persecuted and derided, Paul counseled them to continue doing good to others. By doing so they would “reap a harvest” and it’s the same ultimate reward we still receive.
And from Simon Sinek, another well-known inspirational speaker, a quote to remember…
“If you want to feel happy, do something for yourself. If you want to feel fulfilled, do something for someone else.”
Lent is the season for fulfillment, in many different ways. In these coming days and weeks, take that time to go out and be truly fulfilled.
From George Churchgoer