I very much enjoy cooking and baking. In my eyes though these two ‘interests’ of mine are pretty opposite despite both being in the kitchen department! My mother used to teach me traditional cooking and I struggled with it for a time and a season as that was using ingredients according to the ‘eye’. Now of course that’s how I cook and that’s how I see ‘cooking’ – no need of rigid measurements but rather it boils down to how you feel and what you would like to eat.
Baking on the other hand needs measurements to a pretty large degree of accuracy. The lack of or excess of any one particular ingredient will be evident in the end product. Of course without a doubt there are external circumstances such as the weather, humidity, state of the oven etc that also contribute towards the end result.
While I was chatting with God earlier, I felt inspired about cooking and baking as analogies to our faith lives. The process of baking is pretty similar to that of the legalistic life. Everything has to fit in to the formula.. No allowance is made for errors as that spoils the outward appearance. Every aspect of the process has to be measured to accuracy. The law is about sticking to every letter of it and any sliding away from it is viewed as ugly or unsightly. It is not treated kindly. Even when exterior conditions such as upbringing, the strategies of the enemy, the tug of war of the flesh versus the spirit contribute towards the end result, it is condemned… or chucked out.
Interestingly the one doing the condemnation or the belittling or judging is often the one who is looking at the speck in another person’s eyes through their logs so obviously they see LOGS in the other person’s eyes too! Even worse is the accuser is often the person driving the other to fall due to failure of living as a believer and thus failing to carry out the ‘one another’ commandments. If we truly loved one another as ourselves, would we not be there and share lives? If we understood grace in our lives, we could easily understand their struggles and extend grace too giving a helping hand of love not to be stuck in the rut.
I have been at the receiving end of many an accuser and inwardly I try not to chuckle as they think their marital status or their age gives them the ‘qualification’ or earns them the status to find fault with my life or laugh at my past. Having understood grace I don’t want to extend the same measuring stick to them let alone point out that their lives as far as I’m concerned has nothing to look to as a model of life.
If only we could understand how social mechanisms, our exposures in growing up, our cultural and family values etc impact our worldviews and shape us rightly or wrongly. When we judge without understanding all this let alone overlooking our role (or rather the absence of our contribution of love) in this, we are indeed judging the other person.
The Scriptures warns us about our yardstick:
For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding – 2 Corinthians 10:12
Also, Jesus clearly tells us what would happen if we were indeed to judge (jump to conclusions based on assumptions and ignorance as opposed to having an open mind to find out facts):
For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you – Matthew 7:2
Luke records the words of Jesus as follows (in terms measurement we use for judging and pardoning):
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” – Luke 6:37-38
It’s interesting to note that after this passage in the same chapter follows the narration of the speck and the log!
While sticking to each letter of the law is like the process of baking, the act of loving with grace given the work of Jesus on earth and on the cross is like the art of cooking by the eye. It adds the essential ingredients as necessary for the dish being prepared but yet staying within an overall process to bring about the desired result. Loving one another with grace is about loving as God would love us, within the parameters of His nature and holiness. Is it then of any wonder that we see the Father heart of God calling David, “a man after His own heart” after David had sinned big time, repented and while he was doing a U-turn?
How can we not forgive a repentant heart when the Psalmist states with full faith of God’s acts,
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise – Psalm 51:17
It’s not the outward appearances but it’s the heart that God looks at… It isn’t the self righteous attitude that is like a white washed tomb which looks beautiful on the outside but in the inside is full of dead bones and uncleanness that God looks at… Instead it is the state of the heart that is contrite, repentant and with sincerity longs to walk on the narrow path. We can fool ourselves and others but we can’t fool God!
We can decide to cook by the eye, we can decide to bake – the choices are ours but the consequences also become ours too.
It’s up to you to decide the ‘measures’ that you would like to be used for yourself 🙂