The purpose of Lent (40 days of fasting and penitence before Easter) is to prepare your heart to fully celebrate the blessed reality of Easter Day—Christ’s triumph over sin. The thought is that you will better appreciate the Easter celebration when you make more of an effort to understand what a great salvation you have in Christ. It is a wonderful tradition that causes you to contemplate the redeeming work of Christ. It is considered a time of penitence. It is similar to the preparation the Jewish people made before Passover. They rid their homes of all yeast as a reminder that they needed to rid their lives of all sin in order to have a relationship with God. Of course, no one was able to rid their lives entirely of sin, and that was the purpose of the Passover Lamb. That lamb was sacrificed to represent the payment for sin.
The funny thing about sin is we just don’t like to look at it. We wouldmuch rather ignore it and try to move on towards the joy of the celebration ofEaster. Who wants to spend 40 days thinking about what sinners we are? Not mefor one. A lot of the time we simply can’t ignore our sin. We like to focuson our good qualities instead. Every once in a while, the evidence of our singreets us by the pain we cause to others. We see it on their faces. We can seehow our sin affects our husbands when we disappoint them, or our daughters whenwe yell at them, or a boss when he overhears us gossiping about him. We see iton their faces and we feel bad, so we repent. We ask them to forgive us and wefeel better.
King David said, "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what isevil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justifiedwhen you judge." Somehow David could see past the people he had sinned againstto the One who was ultimately hurt by his sin. The sin he was referring to inthe passage was committing adultery, murder and cover-up, not to mention mismanaginghis country. I can understand if he were repentant over the way he had hurt anyof these people. Why does he tell God that this sin was against you and you only?David knows the truth about sin. He was able to get right down to the matter.The sin was against God because the sin was going to cost God. It was God whowould have to pay for David’s sin. None of the other characters he sinnedagainst would have to deal with his sin in quite the same way.
The wonderful reality about coming to see your sin against God is that He isthe only One who can fully restore you from your sin. It does some good to admityour sins to those you have harmed, but it doesn’t necessarily restoreyou. Many times the person you have hurt is not ready to forgive, and they blatantlyrefuse your offer of regret. God does command us to forgive others their sin,it is proof that we understand what it means to have been forgiven by God. Beingforgiven and forgiving others does bring the joy of relationship restored, butwhat about within you? Are you strengthened deep in your soul? Do you sense atransformation happening when you are forgiven by another person?
Repentance is about being brought back to a relationship with God. Wendy Wrightstates,
TRUE REPENTANCE begins with the felt knowledge that we are loved by God. We are children of God. If we cannot find ourselves there, then perhaps our preparation might consist of the prayer that we might know ourselves as beloved, that the divine lover might reach down into our self-hatred ... and touch us. ... Repentance consists not so much in flagellating ourselves over our "failures" as in courageously and painstakingly reorienting our priorities, unlearning old patterns, turning our faces, like the sunflower, toward the dawning of the light of God. (From pages 41-42 of The Vigil by Wendy M. Wright. Copyright © 1992 by Wendy M. Wright.)
When we focus on the way our sinning has been against God, we come to the relationship that can completely restore us. God does not want us to recite our sins for His pleasure, but so we can fully taste the forgiveness He offers. He invites us to repentance because of His great love for us. This Lenten season begin to recognize the truth about your sin. Rightly see that your sin has been against God and against God only. Accept His invitation of love and forgiveness. Celebrate Easter’s redemption from deep in your soul.