Don’t protect yourself

Lent

Lent is a 40-day period used to prepare for Easter and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. As part of this preparation, many Christians refrain from behaviors or luxuries as a daily reminder of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice to pay our sin debt.

It’s not chocolate

While giving up chocolate and other desserts for Lent may benefit my waistline, I’ve decided to try something different this year. My motivation is the book of 1 John from the Bible. John’s central theme is love. Because God IS love (1 John 4:8), when I enter into a relationship with Him I am able to love you just as He loves me.

Turn off the alarm

This is what occurred to me. If I spend my day preoccupied with protecting myself, then I am not able to love effectively. This protection can take several forms: watching out for insults or slights (real or imagined), advancing my career, seeking acknowledgement for my “good deeds”, policing my digital likes, and others. I’m sure you can name your own examples.

Here’s an example from my home. When my alarm system is activated, I am safe from intruders. However, in order to leave or welcome someone into my home, I have to turn the alarm off.

The plan

So… in order to honor Jesus and build my faith in Him, I am going to stop protecting myself for 40 days. Jesus prescribed this as a way of life, not just a trial period (Matthew 5: 38-42). He used examples to describe His desire for you to trust fully in Him. If someone hits you, not only do you give up the right to hit him back, but you offer the other cheek as a target (of course this excludes abusive relationships). If someone sues for your shirt, don’t fight for its return, but instead offer your coat. Let me modernize this. If someone insults you (in person or behind your back), don’t respond with an insult, but rather with care and love for her. If a business colleague uses your idea and fails to give you credit, don’t look for an opportunity for retribution. Instead, find a chance to praise his work.

I’ll see what happens with my Lent experiment. I bet that I learn two important lessons:

  1. when I’m not looking out for myself, I am able to love and will be blessed with more opportunities to demonstrate that love
  2. God loves me and is fully capable of caring for me without my intervention or help.

God is faithful. He always responds. Give it a try for yourself and see what happens!

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About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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