What’s your favorite kind of book? Not what you “have to” read but what you read to relax. When you go on vacation, and you just want to chill and veg-out, do you get mysteries? Action? Adventure? Romance?
If you ask me what’s my favorite kind of book, it may not surprise you to hear that cookbooks are at the absolute top of my list. I just enjoy going through lots and lots of different recipes by all sorts of different cooks.
And while I’m scanning all these recipes, I do a bad thing. An unforgivable thing. I fold the top corner of the page where a recipe caught my eye. This way I can quickly find it later. Even as I write these words, I feel the guilt and stare of my elementary school librarian, Mrs. Leverton, burning a hole in the back of my head.
The whole idea behind a recipe is pretty easy. It’s only about how to make food. Period. And while you can’t get much simpler than that, it’s actually more than just making food. A recipe tells you how to make food so that it’s ready when you share it with people.
Now I can hear some of you howling at the moon saying that Chet’s trying to make a bigger thing out of something small. But think about it. If you go to all the trouble of making something nice, and they load it up with salt and ketchup, how’s that make you feel?
Mary Ann loves to show love to people by making special meals. One time she made this great chicken salad from scratch. She boiled a whole chicken in stock and vegetables until just done. She then carefully picked off the meat, throwing away the bones and fat. The tender, moist meat was then gently slathered with a tasty dressing and dotted with pieces of apples and grapes. It looked and tasted great.
When it was served, my dad looked distracted as he scanned the table for something. Salt? No. Pepper? No. Ketchup? ABSOLUTELY! Not seeing it, he got up and walked to the refrigerator and found the ketchup that had been carefully and strategically hidden in the back. He made lots of noise as he moved everything out of the way so he could bring his prized ketchup to the table.
He then dumped what only can be described as a truckload of ketchup on Mary Ann’s beautiful chicken salad creation. Now I’m not the most sensitive person in the world when it comes to picking up on people’s emotions, but even I knew that this really ticked Mary Ann off.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
• Colossians 4:6
When Paul says that the Colossians are to season their graceful conversations with salt, he’s not telling them to sprinkle it on at the table. Oh no, they’re to “cook” it into their words before they ever say them.
If all we do is sprinkle salt when we’re talking, we’re just trying to add something at the end. And sometimes it’s necessary to salt something “on the fly.” But God wants us to use his salt long before this.
He wants to season our words and lives in our times with him. When we’re praying. When we’re reading and studying his word. The act of seasoning our words with his salt is something that’s supposed to take place before we have conversations with others.
While our conversation starts with our words, it doesn’t end there. How we say the words makes a great big difference to the people hearing what we say. While I was born and raised in the northeast part of the country, I think my DNA also has a sarcastic twist to it. I can say the most loving and kind words in a way that is a total turnoff.
And then my words might even be said with the right attitude and compassion, my body language can yell louder than my spoken words. If I say the words with my arms folded, what am I really saying?
What does someone think when I’m talking with them, and then I look away so I can speak with another person? It says that they’re not all that significant. It says that I was willing to talk with them until someone more important comes along.
Fiddling with our phone while talking also sends the exact same message. It screams that the person you’re talking with is only important until that next text message comes along. They’re on the top of our priority list until some social media message makes the phone vibrate, then we throw them away like a used candy wrapper.
God wants you and me to be the kind of people that are gracious with our words and actions. And what does his grace look like? We show his grace when we lean into other people. We make the first move to show interest in them. We let them talk instead of us talking like a firehose, not letting them get a word edgewise.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, is desperately looking for gracious people. People that speak with grace. Who listen and pay attention to them. People who treat them as special.
After all, isn’t that what God did and still does with us? We are saved by God’s grace. His leaning into us. And that ultimate “leaning in” happened on the cross. Jesus “leaned in” when he came to earth. He also “leaned in” when he let them nail him to the cross.
He’s the way, the truth, and the life. That’s God’s recipe for how we come back to him.