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Lenten repentance, Lenten appreciation

photo of Mark SchroederTaking things for granted happens all too easily. The worst part about taking things for granted is that we fail to appreciate and remember the routine and ordinary blessings that are ours every day. But what about the extraordinary, amazing blessings of God? What about his grace, his forgiveness, his mercy? Do we take those things for granted as well?

When I let a day go by without pausing to acknowledge my utter sinfulness and unworthiness before God, could it be that I’ve begun to take God’s grace in Christ for granted? When I am no longer horrified with my disobedience to God merely because my sins are not as visible and open as those of others, have I begun to lose sight of how much a sinner like me needs God’s forgiveness? When God’s forgiveness comes to me in the gospel as a daily gift of his grace, do I hear it only casually, as if it’s nothing special? Taking for granted the greater blessings of God’s grace and forgiveness robs us of the greatest joys and the perfect peace God wants us to enjoy.

We’re about to enter the season of Lent. We recall the suffering and death of our Savior during Holy Week and celebrate the resurrection victory on Easter Sunday. We add midweek Lenten services to review the Passion History from the four gospels. We hear sermons that focus on the words and actions of our Savior and the words and actions of people—friends and foe alike—who played a part in that story and remind us that we played a part too.

Far from being passive observers, Christians actively participate in the Lenten season. It is, after all, a season of repentance. Genuine repentance is much more than a passing acknowledgment of our many sins. God-pleasing, genuine repentance in believers begins first with something God does. He speaks his law to us—the law that not just reminds us that we are something less than we should be but also forcefully drives us to our knees in fear. The law reminds us that we are by nature the exact opposite of perfect. In that law God thunders words to each of us that cut to the very core of our being. He says to you and to me, “The one who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:20).

God-pleasing repentance continues as God leads us to believe him when he tells us in in Christ that all our sins are gone and all our guilt has been removed. Then God-pleasing repentance continues in our daily lives as we strive, with the help and desire that God himself gives, to turn from our sin and serve God in love and thanks.

Maybe one of the greatest blessings of Lent is that it is a perfect reminder never to take God’s greatest blessings for granted. As we follow Jesus to his cross, we can’t help but think of our sin. As we see him suffer, we can’t help but remember that it was “[our] burden in your passion, Lord, you have borne for [us]” (Christian Worship 428:2). As we spend the hours in somber Lenten worship, we hear both messages that we need to hear: the stern message of God’s law calling us to heartfelt repentance and the sweet message of the gospel assuring us that the Savior we remember is the Savior who died for us.

That’s nothing to take for granted.

President Schroeder's signature

Author: Mark Schroeder
Volume 109, Number 03
Issue: March 2022

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This entry is part 17 of 51 in the series presidents message

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