Here are a few “deny yourself” suggestions for this season of Lent when—for spiritual growth—we are to deny ourselves.
These suggestions are not related to food or social media, although those are good things to moderate for the benefit of your body, soul and spirit.
The “deny yourself” suggestions I offer here will go far in helping us serve God through subduing the flesh and improving our relationships with one another, enabling us to live in harmony with our fellow sisters and brothers, family and friends, co-workers and strangers.
Don’t be easily offended.
God wants us not to be offended. Offense is a bait of Satan, a subject John Bevere discusses comprehensively in his book The Bait of Satan.
The Bible tells us the following about offenses: “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come” (Luke 17:1 NKJV).
Luke 17:2-3 says about the offender: “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”
Our task is to stay in the realm of forgiveness and not accept the offense.
Proverbs 19:11 encourages us to see wisdom in patience, stating: “It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
Overlooking an offense is not easily done. During this season of Lent and beyond, we should practice overlooking an offense.
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How do we overlook an offense? We remember how and when we were the offender (Ecclesiastes 7:21-22), and we take encouragement from James 1:12, which says: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
Don’t be easily insulted.
God wants us not to be insulted. It’s foolish to give in to insult.
Proverbs 12:16 says: “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.”
In addition to avoiding looking like a fool, another reason we should not be insulted and not accept an insult is noted in 2 Corinthians 12:10. In our weaknesses, insults and difficulties, God is strong in us.
In the midst of insult, we can remember what Exodus 14:14 says: “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Our response to insult can be to keep quiet.
Do live by faith.
During this Lenten season, let’s practice living by faith—according to 2 Corinthians 5:7—in all areas of this life, trusting in the Lord rather than our own understanding, as Proverbs 3:5 instructs us. These two Scriptures can strengthen us against reacting according to our natural senses, knowing our natural response is Satan’s doorway into our relationships, as well as the rest of our lives.
All too often, our work as educators bombards us with distractions, busyness and disappointments. We lack the time and solitude needed to be alone with God and to reaffirm who we are in him. Our connection with the Creator is vital if we are to live the life he has for us.
As you continue inspiring your students to “practice, practice, practice,” I encourage you also to practice, practice, practice.
• Practice not being offended.
• Practice not being insulted.
• And practice living by faith.
Prayer: Lord, we are confronted daily with an onslaught of offenses and insults. Common sense to us may not be common to the next person, and we feel hurt. Help us not to accept offenses and insults. Help us not to react with our natural defenses; and when we do, help us to pray, repent and move forward. Thank you, God, that we can cast our cares on you (1 Peter 5:7). Amen
Lisa M. Rainey, Ph.D., is an experienced educator. She and her husband, Daniel, are members of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas.