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An Ash Wednesday Reflection

03/09/2011

Traditionally, Lent is a time when we are called to do three things specifically: fast, pray, and give. While those can take different forms, I think it’s important that we try to incorporate those acts of discipline into our routine during Lent.

In thinking about what it looks like to give, I always go back to Isaiah 58. In some versions, Isaiah 58:6 says this: Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen? In others, it says: I will show you what true worship looks like.

But the message is the same, regardless of how it’s introduced. Give to the poor, the hungry, the thirsty.

In light of that, I’m challenged this Lent to examine my own heart and how I give. Here, some thoughts by CS Lewis:

In the passage where the New Testament says that everyone must work, it gives as a reason ‘in order that he may have something to give to those in need.’ Charity– giving to the poor, is an essential part of Christian morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats it seems to be the point on which everything turns. Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce that kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality. I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small.Ā (CS Lewis: The Business of Heaven, Harcourt 1984)

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