I love food. I love the presentation of food, the smell, the texture, and the taste. I don’t mind getting my fingers dirty because of a great slab of ribs on my plate, nor do I mind using special tools to eat unconventional foods. All of these senses coming together in an experience that is supposed to be satisfying and enjoyable. In fact, I love food so much that I am willing to try just about anything once.
I have sat down to a plate of food that looked anything but appetizing and ended up having one of the best meals of my life. In contrast, I’ve also been presented a plate of well crafted foods… artwork on a porcelain plate… and barely able to take a second bite. There have been foods that smell amazing, but the flavor was lacking (my husband feels this way about coffee, it’s ok… I’ve forgiven him).
Here is the thing, because I have an openness toward trying different foods… cuts, cooking styles, seasonings, etc… I know GOOD food. A few years ago, I was at a cookie exchange and two women were commenting on how they brought the exact same cookies and they tasted so differently. They compared their recipes, nothing was amiss. So, I sampled them both and replied: “One of you used salted butter, the other used unsalted butter. That is what made the difference.” Sure enough, I was right.
I know that it is not just about the ingredients but also how we cook it, you can do everything right in the preparation but then flub it up in the execution. It happens, to the best of us. There have been a few meals over the last 20 years that I have tossed right into the trash, as we waited for the pizzas to arrive.
There are so many pieces of scripture that compare words to food, or eating food.
Matt 4:4 says that we can’t live on bread alone but the Word of God. Jer 15:16 speaks of the joy of drinking in God’s Word. 1 Peter 2:2 compares the Word to milk. Hebrews 5:12,15 compares it to solid food. Psalm 113 calls it “honey in my mouth”. Psalm 119:11 we read of storing up His word (akin to how we store up food). We are told that it is good for us, nourishing to our bodies and souls, we are told to keep it on our lips, to consume it.
We are also warned to be careful about the words that come out of our own mouths. How do you words taste when they come out of your mouth? Are they bitter? Does it sting or burn? Are these words that destroy and divide, or tear down another?
Delivering bad news, it is so hard to do. Yet, it amazes me how gentle we can be when pushed into that circumstance. The words may be hard, but they are spoken with sweetness, compassion, and love.
We can also take harmful words and try to envelop them in words that sound sweet. It may look good, it may sound good, but the words are bitter to the taste. We know they are harmful words and we do everything we can to hide that fact. This reveals so much about our intentions, of wanting to say something that isn’t beneficial but also trying to avoid ownership for those words. When we encase them to make them appear harmless or sweet, good intentioned… we can then claim ignorance, blame misunderstanding, or even try to convince the recipient that it is their perception of our words that is off.
There are other times when our words sting, and we mean them to sting. When we are purposefully lashing out at another person. It’s that old cliche saying of “hurt people, hurt people”. Whether it is spoken in revenge, anger, jealousy, etc… these words are sharp and there is no mixed message about it.
I’m sure we can all agree that these three points are obvious, we’ve all encountered them. But recently, I was made aware of another example that wasn’t quite so obvious.
If we are called to use our words to build up, encourage, unify, strengthen, in love, for peace, etc… than any use of our words otherwise is counter to that call.
The enemy seeks to destroy, to discourage, to divide, to weaken, to hurt, to cause chaos, and confusion. He is also a liar and manipulator, who can camouflage his plans to look and sound like a good idea or path.
Would God present you with an opportunity that would cause division among your friends? Would He call you down a pathway that would become a stumbling block for your family? Would He call us to a purpose that would intersect and cut off the work of another ministry or organization that He has ordained?
Sometimes these ideas and opportunities sound good, Kingdom worthy, and they may “feel right”. These opportunities may not be bad, evil, or destructive. In fact, they can even be a blessing to the community (God makes beauty out of ashes, and redeems all things to be used for His glory).
How much of this has to do with our own desires impacting our perception of truth and calling? I remember reading something to the effect of “God will never give you another woman’s husband.” This guy may be our knight in shining armor, and everything could feel so right… so much so that you could almost catch your self thanking God for bringing this man in to your life. No matter how wonderful it feels, the truth is that God would never destroy one marriage or divide a family in order to bring you a husband. That is a slap in the face to the very character of God displayed in the scriptures.
It would not be of God’s character to give you something that He intended for someone else. We must be very careful not to credit God with orchestrating things in our lives that are actually of our own doing, our own desires, or that contradict who we know Him to be.
I believe one way to flesh these things out is to taste the words of your intentions. Do they taste sweeter than honey or are they bitter. Do they flow easy from your mouth, or do you struggle to speak? Are your words working toward something or against someone? Are these words that are surrounded in peace or are they littered with chaos and confusion? Are you confident in the calling or are you trying to convince yourself that you have been called?
If we are leaning in close to God, praying for clarity and discernment, then I believe the Holy Spirit is going to reveal the truth. I believe that if you have to struggle and attempt to justify yourself, you will taste that those words are not good. You will feel it in your heart, mind, soul, and even body that you are going in a direction that is not right. You will feel weighted and burdened in a very negative way, even if you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is that you feel so bad.
But, when you are in alignment with God’s calling on your life, you will feel freedom to move forward at His pace. There will be excitement and you won’t need to justify it to anyone (including yourself) because you will know deeply that this is the way you should go, and you will walk in it confidently. You will not be weighted down with burden, but soaring!
So taste those words that come out of your mouth. Before you make that phone call, or send that email, or even schedule that face to face meeting…
Say it out loud. Don’t embellish it with fancy explanations and trying to justify it. Speak it in plain simple facts. Then ask yourself, how would I feel if I was the one receiving this message. Would I feel hurt or betrayed? Would I feel attacked or discouraged? Do these words sound divisive or damaging? Do these words taste bitter, are they unsavory? Would I not want to receive this message?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then pull back and pray over this situation. Ask for His peace and clarity over your steps. Remember He is not a God of chaos, disorder, or confusion. He does not change His Word or character to bend to the will of one person, He is consistent and constant. He will not give you peace over a decision or direction that He does not intend.
If the words are bitter, if the mind is clouded in confusion… do not rush into anything but the arms of God.