Lenten repentance, Lenten appreciation
Mark G. Schroeder
It’s so easy to take daily blessings for granted. Step into the shower, and you just expect the water to be warm. When mealtime rolls around, we simply assume that there will be food on the table. Taking things for granted happens all too easily. The worst part about taking things for granted is that we fail to appreciate and remember the blessings that are ours every day.
Taking ordinary things for granted is one thing. But what about the extraordinary, amazing blessings of God? What about his grace, his forgiveness, his mercy? Do we take those things for granted as well?
When I let a day go by without pausing to acknowledge my utter sinfulness and unworthiness before God, could it be that I’ve begun to take God’s grace in Christ for granted? When I knowingly commit a sin and shrug it off as nothing serious, have I begun to lose an appreciation for the sacrifice made to take that sin away from me? When God’s forgiveness comes to me in the gospel as a daily gift of his grace, do I hear it only casually, as if it’s nothing special? Taking for granted the greater blessings of God’s grace and forgiveness robs us of the greatest joys and of the perfect peace that God wants us to enjoy.
We are about to enter the season of Lent. It’s that six-week period in which we prepare ourselves to recall the suffering and death of our Savior during Holy Week and to celebrate the resurrection victory on Easter Sunday. As a part of that preparation, each Wednesday during midweek Lenten services we will review the Passion History from the four gospels. We will hear sermons that focus on the words and actions of our Savior and the words and actions of people—friends and foes alike—who played a part in that story.
Far from being passive observers of that crucial time in history, the Lenten season for Christians is a time of active participation. It is, after all, a season of repentance. Genuine repentance involves much more than being sorry and confessing our shortcomings. God-pleasing, genuine repentance in believers begins first with something God does. He speaks his law to us not just in order to remind us that we are something less than we should be but to force us to our knees in fear because we are by nature the exact opposite of the perfect people God demands. In that law, God thunders words that cut to the very core of our being. He says to you and to me, “The soul that sins shall die!”
God-pleasing repentance continues as God leads us to believe him when he tells us that in Christ all our sins are gone and all our guilt has been removed. God-pleasing repentance lives on in our daily lives as we strive, with the help and desire that God himself gives, to turn from our sin and serve God in love and thanks.
Maybe one of the greatest blessings of this time of Lent is that Lent is a perfect reminder never to take God’s greatest blessings for granted. As we see our Savior suffer, we can’t help but remember that it was “my burden in your passion, Lord, you have borne for me” (Christian Worship 105:4). In somber Lenten worship, we hear both messages we need to hear—the stern message of God’s law calling us to heartfelt repentance and the sweet message of the gospel assuring us that the Savior we worship is the Savior who died for us.
And that’s nothing to take for granted.
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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 102, Number 2
Issue: February 2015
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