The term ‘Ash Wednesday’ is not found in the Bible.  Many professing Christians participate in having ashes put on their foreheads by a member of the clergy on Ash Wednesday.  The scriptural reason that is given is to remind the person receiving the ashes of Genesis 3:19.  This verse states, “…for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”  The purpose is to remind the person that life is short and to live their life wholeheartedly for the Lord.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which is a period of 46 days that lead up to Easter Sunday.  Lent is also not found in the Bible.  It is a time to consider one’s life and repent of any sins that have been committed.  Many people give up something that they enjoy such as chocolate or television as a way of trying to draw closer to God through self-denial.  Scriptural support for self-denial is found in Luke 9:23, where Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”  As this verse states, God wants us to deny ourselves DAILY and live our lives for His glory, not just during the 46 days of Lent.

It is good to be reminded that our lives are short and that we should live every moment for the Lord.  It is also good to deny ourselves things such as food or pleasures at times to focus more on the Lord.  However, some church groups have placed such importance on receiving ashes and observing Lent that they believe that doing those things results in God’s grace or blessing on their lives.  This gives a person the impression that God’s grace can be earned.  However, we read in Romans 3:24, “…being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (NASB).  God’s grace is a gift!  His grace results in our salvation, and nothing we do can earn our salvation.  As we read in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (NASB).  (218.2)  (DJ)