Rejoicing in the Days of Unleavened Bread
At this time of year we are exhorted to examine ourselves so that we may be found worthy to take the Passover, and during the ensuing feast days of Unleavened Bread, we strive to further identify the sin in our lives and eradicate it. It is of course a life-long process, but the days of the spring festival gives us the opportunity for a concentrated effort. It is also a time of rededication and commitment to God and His Son.
There are many scriptures that are useful in this process. Here is a list of some that I have used for many years:
Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 5:3-12; Psalm 15:1-5; Mark 7:21-23; Psalm 51; Rom 12:1-3, 9-21; I Corinthians 13:4-7; Galatians 5:19-26; Ephesians 4:25-32; II Timothy 3:1-5.
You will of course have your own favourites that provide help in this heart-searching process. God’s Word helps us identify the sins that exist in our lives and to acknowledge our guilt before God.
It can be a painful time with many tears of repentance, but it should also be a time of rejoicing as the scriptures help us see the growth that has taken place! This heart-searching and self-analysis should also provide gladness and joy as we see the hand of God at work in our lives. As we progress along the path of the Christian life, we should be able to recognise the transforming work of Christ in our hearts, minds and attitudes.
For myself, I know that for too many years, while desperate and eager to please God and become like Him, I was trying to do too much on my own strength. I was not relying on Christ in me to change me, but trying to ‘build character’. A worthy cause no doubt, but not necessarily, by itself, enough. My very heart has to be changed. It is not just an outward show of behaviour, which ‘building character’ can often prove to be. Character building may not bring about the right sort of lasting change. If I am building character, it must be Christ’s character, His thoughts and ways replacing mine, not just what I think man – or society - might expect of me.
The Holy Spirit – the very mind and power of God – enables us to obey God, enables us to want to obey God! It transforms us; Christ is formed in us; the new man grows and the old man is cast off. We become partakers of the divine nature. What a wonderful and unimaginable blessing!
Can we see the inexplicable changes in our thinking, in our attitudes, reactions and emotional behaviours? Having recognised a fault, a weakness, an area of downright sin in our lives and having gone to God and begged to be transformed, putting away the old man, can we look back some time later and see that the prayer has been answered? With our willing heart and submission to God, Christ is able to work with us and remove the things that hold us back.
We should be able to see that we are growing. This is not self-righteousness, it is an honest assessment, with God’s help, as to how we are measuring up. We can then rejoice greatly and stand in awe of our great and loving Father for His ineffable mercy in allowing Christ to live in us and helping us to become more like Him. Of course, the process takes a long time, the change may be small to start with – but large oaks from little acorns grow.
We humbly and honestly recognise that it is not of ourselves, that we have no reason to glory other than Christ in us. The more we submit to our loving Father, the more Christ can achieve. It is a solemn thought to realise that God cannot do anything unless we let Him.
Philippians 2:3 says “let this mind be in you which it was also in Christ Jesus.” I hope and pray that we all experience this with humility, awe and love.