God has no need for you to give up chocolate, or playing video games, or wine, or meat, or whatever material thing that you’ve picked, for Lent. In fact, Jesus did not create Lent. The whole idea of giving up something for 40 days does not exist in the Gospel at all. Sure, Jesus fasted (unintentionally) for 40 days while he was in the desert being tempted by the devil. But that doesn’t mean you are supposed to.
Sometimes you have to give up something in order to make yourself appreciate what you do have. We need to remember that everything we have comes from God. We need to remember that we do not control our lives, and that we are not the authors of them. God is. But what God really wants is for us to give up our own wants and tend to the needs of others. God wants our sacrifice of time to help other people, instead of money or offerings. You cannot buy your way into heaven.
16 You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.
1 Samuel 15:22-23 (the prophet Samuel speaking to Saul)
22 Then Samuel said: Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice,to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry.Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,He has rejected you as king.
16 Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.
6 What should I bring before the Lord
when I come to bow before God on high?
Should I come before Him with burnt offerings,
with year-old calves?
7 Would the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams
or with ten thousand streams of oil?
Should I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the child of my body for my own sin?
8 Mankind, He has told you what is good
and what it is the Lord requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
3 “Why have we fasted, but You have not seen?
We have denied ourselves, but You haven’t noticed!”
“Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast,
and oppress all your workers.
4 You fast with contention and strife
to strike viciously with your fist.
You cannot fast as you do today,
hoping to make your voice heard on high.
5 Will the fast I choose be like this:
A day for a person to deny himself,
to bow his head like a reed,
and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast
and a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 Isn’t the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness,
to untie the ropes of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free,
and to tear off every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
to bring the poor and homeless into your house,
to clothe the naked when you see him,
and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will appear like the dawn,
and your recovery will come quickly.
Your righteousness will go before you,
and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard.
9 At that time, when you call, the Lord will answer;
when you cry out, He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you get rid of the yoke among you,
the finger-pointing and malicious speaking,
10 and if you offer yourself[e] to the hungry,
and satisfy the afflicted one,
then your light will shine in the darkness,
and your night will be like noonday.
11 The Lord will always lead you,
satisfy you in a parched land,
and strengthen your bones.
You will be like a watered garden
and like a spring whose waters never run dry.
21 I hate, I despise your feasts!
I can’t stand the stench
of your solemn assemblies.
22 Even if you offer Me
your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
I will have no regard
for your fellowship offerings of fattened cattle.
23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice flow like water,
and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.
4 Then the word of the Lord of Hosts came to me: 5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests: When you fasted and lamented in the fifth and in the seventh months for these 70 years, did you really fast for Me? 6 When you eat and drink, don’t you eat and drink simply for yourselves? 7 Aren’t these the words that the Lord proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem was inhabited and secure, along with its surrounding cities, and when the southern region and the Judean foothills were inhabited?”8 The word of the Lord came to Zechariah: 9 “The Lord of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor, and do not plot evil in your hearts against one another.
All Bible translations are HCSB