You shall not make for yourself an idol … for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
(Deuteronomy 5:8, 9 NRSV)
We don’t think about idolatry in our modern society. When we hear the word, our tendency is to associate it with someone else – not ourselves – but some other person, some other country, some other denomination, or some other religion.
Perhaps Lent is a season to examine our own idolatries, painful as it is.
What would you have trouble giving up for 40 days? Meat? Golf? Candy? Facebook?
Gossip? Whatever it is, it is an idol. (Obviously, there are things one should not give up for health reasons: breathing, eating, sleeping, bathing.)
But if you can’t give up a soft drink or a hot dog or a certain TV show, maybe you should consider what is important to you. What is your idol? Be honest!
Another decision you will need to make is deciding what positive thing you are going to do in place of the habit or activity you have given up. Instead of playing golf, perhaps you could volunteer in a soup kitchen. Instead of eating a piece of pie, you could bake a pie and take it to a retirement home. Instead of reading a book at home, read to a group of senior citizens. Instead of complaining about the kids next door who left their bike in your yard, invite them to a story time.
Word of advice: don’t talk about what you have sacrificed, what good works you have done. The Lord knows. No one else needs to.