Volunteers Sherry and Ellen rushed into the community kitchen where they fed scores of needy people every weekday. Flushed with excitement, they each clasped a long sprig of a green leafy branch, and breathlessly offered them to the Master Chef Jean.
“Look, Jean! My friend gave me this herb for the spaghetti sauce today. She said it’s basil. I’m so excited! I’ve never cooked with fresh herbs before! Just those dry sprinkles of Italian seasoning. You can teach us!”
Jean took a leaf, studied it and told them, “To know what an herb is, you can rub its leaf in your fingers. The smell is very strong. That will help you to know what it is.”
The chef took a sprig, rubbed its leaves between her fingers and smelled deeply.
Ellen asked, “It is basil, isn’t it?”
Jean replied, “No, definitely not. It doesn’t have a strong smell. The leaves aren’t smooth and shiny.”
“But this has wide leaves just like basil!”
“It does have wide leaves, Ellen.” Jean smelled, “But no, it’s not basil nor oregano, either. I don’t think we can use this in the sauce today.”
“Why not? What is it?” asked the chef’s assistant.
She smelled the leaves a third time. “A weed!” pronounced Master Chef Jean.
They all laughed hard and hugged. “It’s okay, ladies. We’re all learning!”
How often do our riffs with others, unlike this one, end with hard feelings and wanting to get even? Do we rerun cruel words or actions, and keep getting mad all over again?
From Man Bites Dog, mystery author Ellery Queen wrote “…the two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when there is no knife handy.”
Getting along isn’t easy. It takes work. Paul writes, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.” [Colossians 3:12-14]
The apostle Paul, who wrote this and about half of the New Testament, had plenty to be angry about. Once he became a believer in Jesus as Messiah, Paul had many trying to kill him. He was in three shipwrecks on the Mediterranean Sea, was stoned and beaten, was a prisoner dependent on his friends to feed him, and spent much time in a dark cell until he was killed as an enemy of the state.
Yet Paul followed Jesus’ example modeled for us, forgiveness bound up with love. He forgave daily and thanked God for the opportunity to tell his guards about Jesus.
If you had or didn’t have a loving home with parents who valued you, you now have a model of forgiveness and love. We are God’s family. He never stops loving us, or forgiving us. Neither should we stop forgiving and loving.
Can you hand over one hurt to Jesus today? He sent us Jesus, who taught us to forgive – even when our mistakes and cooking skills make others grin.
[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]