Everyone has to eat and most people like food! Cooking and food preference conversations are usually intriguing and mouth-watering, with the variety in tastes seemingly endless. Because of this, choosing where to dine out can be frustrating or exhausting as we pause to think about what we feel like eating at any given time. Should we go with Asian, Chinese, Mexican, German, American, or perhaps try a buffet? Do we feel like fast food, sit-down, or something in between? Do we want something heavy or light?
I don’t know about your family, but when we decide to go out, it is often more of a chore as we contemplate what would taste good right about now! I am usually the one to say, “It doesn’t matter to me. You pick!” Then when my husband picks I say, “Well, no, I don’t feel like eating there.” Argh!!!!
Our taste buds are funny and even finicky! It amazes me how diverse people are in their likes and dislikes when it comes to food, and much of that is determined by the seasonings added. The ability of some people to eat “hot” things flabbergasts me.
One day we were having lunch at a food court in the mall with some friends and my husband had bought hamburgers for us. I was enjoying mine, sharing it with the grandkids when my husband said, “Here, try mine.” No problem because I trust him, but within seconds my mouth, lips, and throat started burning and I was near to screaming. I was hurting, he was smiling, others laughing, no one knowing what just happened. Turns out, as he peeled open the bun there were jalapeno peppers on his burger which he had simply “neglected” to tell me. Once I recovered, which took a while (no exaggeration), I was still dumbfounded how he could eat an entire jalapeno burger with no reaction. How does that happen?
Well, I might as well admit I am “seasoning” challenged! I don’t like burned tongues, lips, or throats. I don’t like tastes in my mouth that make me stop and figure out what just happened to me. I guess I just want my meals to go down the gullet, with no major interruptions, while enjoying the simple taste of whatever food I am eating. Most people would find my diet bland, I find it plain and trouble-free. To be honest, for me, less is more when it comes to seasonings on food.
I can attribute my dislike for intense taste sensations to my Swedish heritage. I’ve heard it said Swedes have three seasonings; salt, pepper, and ketchup. Though this might be true in many respects, even my Dad who is 100% Swedish gets upset with me for using ketchup with steak. By the way, should I say ketchup or catsup? I’m not sure!
What is really crazy is that even though I am into “simple”, my cupboard is full with way too many seasonings. Why? Seriously! Salt and pepper are my “go to” spices! I might venture farther out from time to time and add lemon pepper and seasoned, garlic, or onion salt but why have all the other spices? Well, they are there “just in case” a recipe ever asks for them. But I can assure you the “just in case” scenarios RARELY if EVER happen in my cooking.
While writing this, I decided to inventory the vast array of spice tins in my cupboard and then do a little research on shelf life, only to discover I had a problem. For example, any McCormick “tin” spice was at least fifteen years old, because that’s when they stopped packaging in tins. Whoops! Knowing this should have been the perfect motivation to clean out the cupboard, but no! Something just feels right about keeping all those useless spices handy.
Besides, spices don’t spoil only lose strength and flavor (possibly an advantage for me if I add them to my meals). Their shelf life can be extended by storing in airtight containers in cool, dark places, but then, who doesn’t keep their spices right next to the stove or oven where it gets warm or even hot while cooking and baking? It would seem this is not the better part of wisdom, even though it is more convenient.
I found that shelf life for most spices is one to four years depending on whether they are stored whole or ground. So looking at my spices I thought, “What’s another ten to fourteen years as long as they don’t spoil?”
Though the majority of my spices might be old, I assure you my salt and pepper shakers are fresh and always full, readily available right ON the hot stove! I never worry about their flavor or potency. They are always just PERFECT, never too strong and never too bland.
Before moving on, for you spice lovers, kudos to you for trying new things, spicing up your dinner table, and expanding your horizons giving your taste palate lots of exciting sensations. As for me and my house, we will stick to passing the salt and pepper (and catsup).
Well, you may be wondering what prompted me to write this much about foods and seasonings. It almost sounds like someone is complaining about my lack of ingenuity in cooking and I am trying to defend myself. (no comments from anyone who eats my food please) But really, the reason I write about seasoning is because God has something to say about it. Go figure!
People often say we should be sure to season our speech with grace. I hear it more now that I am doing more teaching and preaching. I figure they are trying to tell me in a “nice sort of way” that I don’t always sprinkle what I have to say with grace. I do listen to what people say, and this phrase “season our speech with grace” kept running through my brain as I would study the Word and prepare for bible studies or messages.
One day as I was working, rewording my teaching to make sure I added lots of grace, lots of seasoning, I heard Holy Spirit say, “Why don’t you look that up in My Word”. My response was “What? Look it up?” He said “Yes, look it up and see what I say about seasoning”.
So I looked it up and was surprised at what I found! Turns out I been misquoting Scripture, and so has everyone else who says we must season our speech with grace! Truth is we are NOT to season our speech with grace – We are ALWAYS to speak with grace.
We don’t “add” grace as a seasoning like salt, pepper, or ketchup (or paprika, oregano, chili pepper, or basil) but grace is the main dish! In its original language, it actually means our conversation should always be “in” grace not just “with” grace. This is the wonderful, beautiful reality of living in Christ. Everything we say is in the grace of God! For this to happen we must let His Word dwell in us and fill our hearts with grace.
Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
When grace is in our hearts, grace comes out our lips, because we speak out of the heart whether we know it or not. Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
And so, as Christians we speak what is good because we want to impart Christ to others, we want to impart grace, not just season our speech with grace. Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
Once we establish grace is the main dish, we move on to seasoning our grace-filled words with salt. Now, all seasonings are meant to bring out the flavor in food, not to hide it, and even salt enhances the natural flavoring of food, while also being used as a preservative. So when it comes to our grace-filled speech, salt is the zesty, lively, fresh, spiritual wisdom we add to it! Just as salt brings out the flavor in food and preserves it, spiritual wisdom makes our speech come alive, invigorating and reviving our words of grace!
Scripture tells us then, that we always speak in grace, seasoned with salt SO THAT we know how to answer people. Salt is important in all food preparation. Adding too much hides the flavor of the food or completely ruins a meal, and adding too little salt might discourage people from trying that particular meal again because of its tastelessness. But adding just the right amount leaves people satisfied, full, and pleased with their eating experience.
It is the same with our speech. We need to season our grace-filled speech with salt, spiritual wisdom, adding just the right about, at the right time, with the right words. We serve up grace at every meal, every conversation, and we season it accordingly, knowing how to answer people with not too much and not too little salt.
We rely on Holy Spirit for our main dish AND our seasoning, our grace and our salt. He knows when and how much truth and wisdom to share with each person we converse with each day.
So….whether you are risky or safe, extravagant or thrifty, exciting or boring in your seasoning preferences, don’t forget to use salt to season your grace filled speech, and then enjoy seeing appetites satisfied, as we just give people Jesus!!!!!