Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
Some phrases are less useful than others. Some phrases are even used as a more polite way to express something where a vulgarity might be useful. “Not Good” is one of those phrases. I have heard it used it when a bad situation arises at work and yet the supervisor was trying to refrain from using profanity. I commend the supervisor for acknowledging that there is a better way to phrase their frustration.
“Not Good” can also be used in another context. Specifically, when something is or has gone bad. Such is the situation with us humans. Sin has firmly taken hold in our lives. Every one of us is a sinner and we sin daily, in thought, word, and deed. We sin in the things we do and the things we leave undone. Sadly, there is really is not way out of this, at least while we are yet among the living.
Last night was Ash Wednesday. This marks the entry into the forty day period of the church year that culminates with the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. That is to say Lent ends with the coming of Easter. During this time, we are called to look upon ourselves and our sinful condition. We are called to reflect upon those things in our lives that are “Not Good” and to change them.
Sadly, the thing that most hear of during this time is how somebody is going to give up something, like soda or ice cream during this time. They take something frivolous and make a big show of giving it up for Lent. Even I am guilty of having done this. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was quite to the point about this. In discussing the prayer and fasting habits of the scribes and pharisees, Jesus pointed out how they, much like many who give up something during Lent, make a big show of their prayers and fasting. Jesus also pointed out their motives, gaining the admiration of the people. In that regard, yes, they got their reward.
The Christian faith, whether Baptist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, or any other denomination, is not about showing how humble and holy we are. Rather, it is how we live in loving, faithful obedience to the Lord God Almighty. We are not called to “sacrifice” things to show our holiness, because we have no holiness of our own. We are called to live our lives in obedience to what God has revealed to us through the Bible.
There are many things we can do to get the admiration of people. Giving up something during Lent isn’t one of them. Such being the case, we should not be trumpeting to the world what we are giving up for Lent. Rather, we should let that be between us and God. Certainly there is no cause to lie if asked, however, there is no need to announce it either. In announcing it, what good are we doing? None. If we are going to give something up, we should do so in such a manner as to show nothing, or we will only being seeking the praise of men. If that is all we are doing, then something is not good. Namely us.
If we really want to make a sacrifice this lenten season, then lets start with repentance. Let us repent of our bad thoughts and motivations. Let us give up everything in our lives that is not good. As we do that, let us also make a greater effort to read our Bibles and draw closer to the sovereign God of the universe, who loved us and sent his son to die for us, to save us from our sins. Yet, let us do so quietly, without fanfare and trumpets. Let it be that God seems our actions, actions spurred on by a contrite heart, and may it be that he rewards us for our desire to draw close to him.
Not Good. Such an odd term to use when describing a bad situation or the human sinful condition. Yet, oddly, a most appropriate term. May it be that we can all repent of those things in our lives that are “Not Good” and thus draw closer to God during this season of Lent as well as every other season.