40-Day Fast from Being a Jerk

As Ash Wednesday rolls around, instead of giving up chocolate this Lenten season, why not make a commitment to give up being a jerk? Just think of the difference you and I can make in the communities that we participate in if we refuse to indulge in the negative mudslinging and political carping that has become the American way. What could happen if we were willing to act on Jesus’ directive to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”?

Yes, we must admit, we who sin are guilty of casting stones. Our self-righteous indignation and critical judgment of others does not honor God or build faith in the lives of people in our networks of influence.

The great Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi remained a devoted Hindu throughout his life even though he seriously considered the way of Jesus. His experience of the conduct of Christian missionaries in India and their general alliance with the politics of colonialism made him doubtful that their claims about Jesus had any unique claim to the truth. Gandhi could see the grave contradiction between the way Christians lived and spoke and the “law of love” he found in what he called the “true message of Jesus” found in the Sermon on the Mount.

The Christian writer Thomas Merton wrote: “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”

Giving up being a jerk may be harder than giving up chocolate, but think of the difference it can make in your life as well as the lives of others around you. 

Mike Slaughter is the almost four-decade chief dreamer and lead pastor of Ginghamsburg Church and the spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations. Mike’s call to "afflict the comfortable" challenges Christians to wrestle with God and their God-destinies. His newest book is The Christian Wallet: Spending, Giving, and Living with a Conscience (Westminster John Knox Press; January 27, 2016)

Recent Comments

In these days of slamming and shaming most everyone, I find your suggestions for a Lenten practice of “giving up being a jerk” really uplifting.  I’ll have a hard time applying Jesus’s “law of love” to the politicians angling for our votes in November, but maybe that’s the point.  Gandhi said, “If you don’t see the face of Jesus Christ in the next person you meet, you’ve missed the point.”  (Or something to that effect.)  This Lent, I will try to see the face of Jesus in everyone I meet.

Giving Up Being a Jerk. Yes I will work on this every day.  Sometimes it’s so hard for me to keep from being judgement .  This inspires me ?

Give up being a jerk in our daily life for forty days and beyond. Make it a habit.

I take such pleasure in giving a stranger a smile or kind word or holding a door for them hoping that it pleases God. My health limits me in doing all the work I used to but I still want to give of myself. Where I get into trouble is when it’s personal or involves one of my family and sometimes judge before asking God for help in the situation. I will make it a habit during lent. Prayer please as my daughter is going through a very rough time.

This is truly inspirational.  At the same time as Pastor Mike said it is a challenge in this time of Christianity being condemned at every turn and especially by our own government. This has inspired me to look at what is happening with amore Jesus related

That’s alot of work .....for me to give up being a jerk AND turning around and loving the one who chooses to keep being one.  God help me.

Thanks for this, Mike!  So often Lent becomes about giving up some sort of indulgence or luxury, only to jump right back into it when the season is over.  I like the idea of giving up something destructive, especially something destructive to the cause of Christ, and trying to make it a habit.

I appreciate the suggestion! Several years ago I suggested to the congregation that we give up complaining for Lent. It made an amazing difference, especially as we helped each other be accountable as a group. I think this might even go a little further…so I’m in!

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