The last time I actually participated in lent was probably four years ago. I gave up coffee and all of its derivatives. It was my first time doing lent, and I didn’t know it was only forty days before Easter, so I actually started my coffee fast at the beginning of January that year. It was an epic lent fast, probably about three times longer then it was “supposed’ to be. Keep in mind, I love coffee, a lot, and that first cup of coffee on Easter Sunday tasted like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. It was a great experience, the whole lent fast, it definitely gave me more time to reflect and prioritize and put God first.
I remember when I was a kid, there was one year i didn’t have much money to give a present to one of my parents for their birthday (because I had just spent it all on myself), and I remember thinking to myself “It’s OK! It’s the thought that counts, right?” See, I had heard the expression before, and I figured that I might be able to exploit it for my own advantage… and so I drew them a crappy picture and sure enough, the “thought that counts” “magical sucky-gift forgiving words” were uttered, and I thought to myself, “SWEET. I can save my money for MEEEE and give sucky gifts forever!” It was a loop-hole. I was going to exploit it for all it was worth!
The thought behind my gift giving was selfish, not loving.
This isn’t the heart that parents desire, so why would God desire it?