I keep my ear to the ground. I know what's going on some of the time too. It would seem that there's some talk of lent rattling around. I'm gonna go ahead and say now that I think lent is a bunch of hooey. Not for the reasons one may suspect, but hooey nonetheless.
I don't do new year's resolutions. I don't do lent. I disagree with the premise of regimented self improvement, or at least scheduled self improvement. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that I disagree with allowing what one deems 'good behavior' to be put in a box, or on a calender. If quitting smoking is gonna be good to do on January first, then it's good on December ninth, or whenever. If upon self examination a weakness or unwanted trait is brought to light, then deal with it the right way. And at the right time. The right time is always now. Now, don't misunderstand me, I am sympathetic to the fact that we have vices and can empathize with self delusion. It's that once the decision is made to do something about it, we must act. Putting it off willfully will only harden our hearts to the effects.
The Bible talks about this, as God gives people over to their own desires. Their downfall doesn't come as a coerced punishment, but literally being given what they want. The psychological world calls it cognitive dissonance. If a person's aims and actions are incompatible, then something is going to give. Generally, it is the aims that give way to the actions, where bad behavior is accepted and then justified. Whether more inclined to accept God's word or psychology, as a practical matter, it is destructive to disregard, and ultimately sear one's conscience.
Now, as a religious practice I find lent to be distasteful; if not in it's conception, certainly in it's modern practice. Hearing it spoken of, it's like some secret santa gift exchange for depravity. "Should I give up hookers or booze? Or maybe I'll just not get blackout drunk." "I'm giving up sex for lent."
Obviously, my opinion is that if you think you shouldn't be having sex, then don't. But let's be real here. Jesus went in the desert without food for 40 days. So, to kinda throw your hat into the ring with that with "I'll try to not hump my girl for lent" is preposterous. It's like those guys who re-live a watered down crucifixion with straps instead of Railroad spikes. Ya sure, I get that you're appreciative, but the claim that you "want to do what your King did" is insulting to His sacrifice. I know Mel isn't Mr, Popular right now, but his treatment of the scene was probably the closest dramatization we're gonna see. I don't see those freaks in South America doing that. It's more like tying their arms at shoulder height for a few minutes. I'm not doubting the motivation or the faith. I'm just suggesting we be mindful of the message.
The premise behind Jesus' life was love and sacrifice and humility. And that He did these things when He didn't have to, but out of love "for the joy set before Him", which is our salvation. Well, imagine that you were inclined to give someone a gift. An expensive one. Out of the goodness of your heart. No expectation of repayment. You give a friend a car. Well, if that same friend turned around and bought you a toaster as if to make it square, wouldn't it be insulting? I'm not talking about them giving for the sake of giving, but offering a silly trinket, like "since you bought me the car, I got you a toaster. Only seemed fair."
That's kinda how I view people competing with God's salvation for our souls with certain actions and self imposed penitence. It's like, don't cheapen a gift by trying to pay for it. Pay it forward in love. That's the deal. We are to live by the example, to the extent we can and are led to, not reciprocate. Ain't gonna happen.
That's my deal on lent and New Year's Resolutions. If you see something that could use some work, put in some work. Because it's the right thing to do. Accept gifts graciously. Accept grace graciously. Be glad for mercy. And be merciful. This may be a little sappy, but it's po flow as far as I'm concerned. Channel 19!