A starving child takes refuge in a Nigerian relief camp during the Nigerian–Biafran war in the 1960’s.

I’ve heard a lot of people talking about what they’re giving up for Lent. Many have said that they’re giving up drinking sodas or eating fast food – but that’s not Lent – that’s a diet plan.

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud anyone on a mission to eat healthier, but giving up bad habits for six weeks and then resuming them once Easter passes is going to have little to no effect on the world around you, let alone the long-term state of your waste-line.

Other people mention giving up Facebook, watching TV, or playing video games. Again, I admire you for striving to waste less time on mindless entertainment, but what are you doing instead? How does it help other people? How does it glorify God?

Here’s my suggestion:

Instead of just giving up your daily Starbucks Caramel Macchiato, put aside the money you would have spent, and on Easter, donate it to a homeless shelter or food bank. You should have around $40 by then. According to the Houston Food Bank, “Every $1 provides a full day of meals to our neighbors in need …” So, you’d be feeding one person for over a month, or 40 people for a whole day!

Instead of just giving up TV for six weeks, cancel your cable, and use the $60 a month you would have spent to sponsor starving children in a poverty stricken nation. According to World Vision, for “$1 a day, you’ll provide children in need with access to life-saving basics like clean water, nutritious food, healthcare, education, and more.” With $60 a month, you could even donate $2 a day!

Instead of just giving up Facebook, use the roughly 35 hours you are saving to volunteer at an animal shelter or other charity. Or – here’s a cool idea – spend quality time with the love-deprived child of a dead-beat dad. Who can say what kind of profound difference you’d make in that kid’s life, and the lives of everyone they someday were able to impact? Use your time to set off a domino effect of love and positive action!

Furthermore, when Lent is over, don’t fall back into your old, stale routine. Don’t go back to your regular way of doing things! Instead, make Lent your constant lifestyle. After all, Jesus didn’t sacrifice the enjoyment of living in Heaven for a mere six weeks. He was on earth for over three decades before he made the ultimate sacrifice and died so that others could live.

Would you die for someone else? It’s a hard question to answer. Most of us will probably never even be faced with the choice. But we can devote our lives to serving others. We can make little sacrifices that make a world of difference to people who we may not even know.

Think about it: What can you give up that would empower you to benefit someone else?

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