In week 1 of the Inside Straight Lent series we laid the foundation for the series from Colossians 3.
We discovered that our lives are "hidden in Christ" but that we are being revealed as creatures created in the image of our Creator.
This revealing that is taking place involves some Putting Down and some Picking Up.
We put down those habits and practices that are parts of the survival kits of our own lives - some of these things have even served us quite well in their own way but are slowly killing us. You can read the list of examples that Paul uses in Colossians 3.
The early Christians summarised these types of lifestyle as the 7 Deadly Sins:
Gluttony – massive over-consumption particularly of food
Greed – rampant desire for material possessions
Wrath – uncontrolled anger and hatred
Envy – insatiable desire for what another has
Sloth – chronic laziness – physical and spiritual
Lust – intense desire for something – often associated with sex but the original word was not limited to that context
Pride – obsession with self
Early Christians identified these as behaviours that while seeming to offer something to us that we want, also deliver consequences to us that if we stopped to think we’d really rather avoid. This is where Lent comes in. A big part of Lent is putting down. Now for some, they thought they were just putting down chocolate but it turns out they were putting down gluttony which is a whole other degree of difficulty!
Colossians 3 also describes a Putting on:
12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
The virtues described in Colossians 3 are reflected in the 7 Heavenly Virtues,a list that early Christians devised to counter the 7 Deadly Sins:
Restraint – Gluttony ) Appetite
Sacrifice – Greed )
Peace - Wrath ) Emotion
Kindness – Envy )
Diligence – Sloth ) Thought
Purity – Lust )
Humility – Pride ) The root
Practicing these virtues was though to protect one against temptation toward the Seven Deadly Sins. Check out the series graphic to see this in action. If we are only to focus on stripping away the things that are wrong in us. We will likely just end up naked. The picture we see here in Colossians is of putting down and then picking up. This Lent we not only Put Down we have the opportunity to Pick Up.
Which brings us to getting our Inside(s) Straight. If you’re a poker expert you’ll know an Inside Straight is a hand with four of the five cards needed for a straight, but missing one in the middle. Our Picking Up and Putting Down give us 4 of the 5 cards we need - its the presence of God which is what we need to make the Inside Straight.
Take the chance to look at your Lent Commitment through the lens of Putting Down and Picking Up - are you finding the balance of putting down something you no longer need and picking up something new that draws you towards the presence of God? It's not too late to make an adjustment!