Mat’s March Letter

Exercise your soul

One of the perks of having a wife on General Synod is that she gets the odd free sample publication. Emma came back from the last Synod with a copy of the February ‘Christianity’ Magazine (published by CCP). In it there was an excellent short article about Lent. ‘Exercise your soul’ by Jonathon Langley.

He reminded me that this period of Lent is about preparing ourselves ‘to die to ourselves’ as we remember Jesus preparing to die for us. How can we train ourselves to live day by day for Jesus? We are constantly reminded in scripture that God is most concerned about our attitude of heart (e.g. Proverbs 4:23Open Link in New Window, Joel 2:13Open Link in New Window, Matthew 6:19-21Open Link in New Window). The way we live is driven by our heart attitudes. ‘Heart’ training is required.

Giving things up in Lent is about this training. It’s not about the things we give up. It’s about the changes in our hearts that giving things up encourages.

For example, the Christianity article contains an idea from Steve Griffiths, a vicar in Linton, Cambs. He gives up sarcasm in Lent because it helps him to ‘attend to his speech’, which ‘shows how much of his thinking is rooted in anger, bitterness and lack of self confidence’ and this in turn leads him to seek God’s healing of his heart.

I guess in some ways it doesn’t matter what we give up for Lent. It matters more what we do with that tool? Do we take time to reflect on how we react to giving things up? What does it tell us about our priorities, about our attitude of heart, about our lives in general? Does this reflection lead to repentance? Does it encourage us to seek more of God’s grace, love, strength and forgiveness?

This Lent let’s seek to train ourselves to become better followers of Jesus. I’m sure it will help to give something up especially if we spend time prayerfully reflecting on our lives before God as a result of it. Perhaps use one of the books suggested below, or make a commitment with a friend to share and pray together through this period.


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