We are in the middle of the season of Lent, a time of year when many people give up something as a type of fast before Easter. When I was a kid, I was raised in a tradition that observed Lent, and I had to give up something. Because you had to fast from something you liked (candy, cake, ice cream, etc.) I wanted to fast from Lent. Giving up broccoli or spinach was not an option.
We are also nearing Easter, when thoughts run to collecting Easter eggs (or Peeps) in little baskets. This custom dates back to a time when eggs were forbidden during Lent. Fastnachts, a Pennsylvania Dutch custom, allow one to use up rich ingredients before the fast, and to bulk up in anticipation of fasting. No matter what the custom, the idea of Lent is to sacrifice something to symbolize the removal of the Bridegroom from our midst (Matthew 9:15).
Some things are hard to give up. Almost everyone collects something. The March & April 2008 issue of AARP Magazine featured a story about people who collect everything from coins to stamps to cast-iron cookware to mustard. I guess as long as we're not sitting around collecting dust or moss, it's OK to collect things.
I, for one, am loathe to throw out rubber bands, pieces of string, three-way-turned-one-way bulbs, and other USEFUL items. The article states that collecting is an irrational act. It seems that there are just some things we can't give up, no matter how useless they may be. I mean, why collect stamps you can't use, coins you can't spend, radios you can't fix, and rubber bands you can't stretch?
Fans of Antiques Roadshow on PBS know that some items that sit around gathering dust might be gathering value as well. It's exciting to see a piece of furniture that was bought at a flea market for 50 turn out to be worth $50,000 because George Washington drooled on it, and the drawer contains an original document signed by Moses.
The Bible tells us about some things that are well worth collecting, that are guaranteed to increase in worth and don't cost a centthings that appreciate in value the more you share them.
Listen to what the Apostle Peter says:
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:58).
Spiritual assets never go out of style, never tarnish, and never lose their valueunless they sit around collecting dust. Because of our need to escape worldly corruption (2 Peter 1:4), we need to collect the above virtues. Notice the progression, that we must begin with faiththat is, saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only then is one certified as a genuine collector. Then follow the others, culminating in that special treasure: love. When your shelves begin to sag with the weight of these traits, you become increasingly effective and fruitful as a Christian, further conforming to His image. The more you collect, the more you can share with others. You become a living museum, displaying the virtues and works of God in Jesus.
Whether or not you observe Lent, any time is the right time to give up certain things. For example, Peter suggests: "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind" (1 Peter 2:1). These things are useless, neither good for sharing nor worth saving. Your museum would fold, and Antiques Roadshow would pass by your city.
If we collect the appropriate virtues and constantly nourish and care for them, we will be on display for all eternity in God's trophy case. "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2: 6, 7).
Hop off the shelf, dust yourself off, and live for God today!
Alan Allegra is a freelance Christian writer in Pennsylvania. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. More articles at Lifestyles Over 50: http://www.lifestylesover50.com/ and the Morning Call: www.mcall.com. Available for writing. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alanallegra/
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