Are You Misusing Lent to Lose Weight?
By Cally Logan, Crosswalk.com
With the season of Lent in full swing, there are various ways that people choose to observe or participate in Lent. For some, there emerges a temptation to misuse Lent; instead of allowing it to be a Holy time, it becomes a weight loss solution of sorts. Even if it has become such, it does not have to remain there. Lent is about heart posture before the Lord above anything else.
What Is Lent?
Lent is the forty-day season before Easter. It is to recall and recognize the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and praying prior to His public ministry. For many, Lent is observed by fasting in a particular fashion. Some choose to abstain from a type of food, follow a Daniel fast, or eat only after Sundown. It can also be observed by fasting or restraining from an activity, habit, or vice. Many give up social media, for example. It is intended to remove one practice to replace it to be spent in prayer and devotion to God, as Jesus spent the time in the Wilderness in prayer and time with His Father, God.
How Should We Treat Lent?
Lent in itself is to be holy. Holy means, by definition, “set apart,” and it ought to be observed in such a way that honors God first and foremost. If our hearts truly want to place our focus on God, therein lies an importance to not allow anything else to get in front of God. The Bible often speaks of idols and the danger of idols in our lives. The thoughts we connect to idols are figurines or items that are worshiped, but what an idol actually is may surprise you. It is anything that is placed before God in your heart and devotion. The desire to lose weight during Lent has the potential to become an idol, for it is coming before your desire to spend time with God in sincere devotion. Lent should be treated so that we let nothing come before God Himself, but that is not limited to forty days during the year. If we truly want God to be first in our lives, we must remove all we place before Him. He either is our first and greatest love and desire, or He is not. We choose where He is in our lives based on our actions and heart postures.
Is it Wrong to Lose Weight During Lent?
Losing weight during Lent may be a symptom of your actions during the Lenten Season. It is not wrong if you happen to lose weight, but it should not be the goal. If the goal is to lose weight or become healthier, then that is a diet, not a heart practice. You can diet or have a healthier lifestyle at any time of the year, but you should not use Lent improperly. When it came to fasting, the Lord offered in Matthew 6:1-4, “Be careful not to perform your righteous acts before men to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. Truly I tell you, they already have their full reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” When it comes to fasting or any act that we seek to do to be righteous before the Lord, we need to be mindful not to do it for the approval or praise of men. In the same way, if you happen to lose weight during your time of fasting, don’t make it one where you are doing so to receive praise from men or a lower number on the scales. Instead, do so that you may stand before the Lord to know His heart better.
How to Resist Temptation
The Enemy will often seek to manipulate or misuse Holy days and times for his own thwarting efforts. Despite these facts, we are not destined to become his prey, for God can help us through the temptation. Even if you have found yourself slipping during Lent and allowing it to become a weight loss plan, you are not sentenced to stay there. James 4:7 reminds us, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” When we call upon the Lord in humility, He can save us from all that the Enemy seeks to twist and do. He can help you change the course of Lent, and you may even find a deeper and more intimate understanding of what it means to be in a devoted time before the Lord more than ever before.
A Personal Story
I have struggled with an Eating Disorder for over half my life. It began when I was in my mid-teens, and it manifested itself in various ways. From years of Anorexia to occasions of Bulimia, I found myself at times looking for outlets of how to keep my condition under the radar. It was easy to use excuses and hide what was going on rather than acknowledging I had a problem. I recall one Lent season where it appeared easy to conceal the Anorexic tendencies under the guise of participating in Lent. Looking back now, it is clear the trap I was under and how I willingly allowed the Disorder to come before what was truly important during that time. I admit where I fell, but it makes me even more grateful truly for the grace of Jesus Christ that I am forgiven and truly forgiven. I also take comfort in knowing that should such temptations arise again, He will be there to help me through. Anorexia does not have the final say in my Lenten season or my life; God does.
During this season of Lent, take time to ponder and search your own heart and intention before the Lord. As David said in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Invite the Lord to reveal the places where you need adjustment or correction. And then with God enter into the true and genuine abundance that is having a time before the Lord, and all the rich blessings that will be born of that time. Lent is the time to prepare our hearts to remember the greatest gift of all in Christ Jesus. Don’t let the temptation of just losing weight thwart you from all that God wants to give you this Lent.
Related article: How to Discourage Eating Disorders During Lent; What Is Lent and Why Is it Celebrated?
Cally Logan is an author and US History teacher from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, she enjoys mentoring youth and spending time in nature. Her book, Hang on in There, Girl! Will be available everywhere on April 1, 2022. Check her out on Instagram and Twitter, @CallyLogan and TikTok Cally_Logan.