The Right Ingredient

Do you have a favorite holiday recipe? The one that you found online? Or one that was passed down from your family’s best cook? We all seem to have that one special recipe that is our go to for the holidays.

Or if you don’t like to cook, it is the one special food you look forward to savoring. Your grandmother’s potato salad, your Aunt’s famous french cinnamon cookies, your husband’s egg rolls, or your daughter’s fried rice and chicken.

Whatever the dish, it usually has one thing in common; the best version of the dish requires the right ingredients. There is always choices to go cheap on the ingredients, but if you do, the dish just doesn’t taste the same. It is always best to use the best ingredients for the best results.

As a bargain shopper, I have learned this over the years that while some ingredients can be substituted, others cannot. The dish will be okay, but not quite right. It’s like something is missing. The right ingredient.

With holiday get together’s soon approaching, I thought I would take time to talk about another time when we should be choosing the right ingredient, instead of substituting; how we talk to others. Wait, what? I thought you were talking about food. What does ingredients have to do with speech?

Well, to answer you; everything. The holidays can be happy times to celebrate with others, but also times when we can really put our foot in our mouth. Or find ourselves speechless at others. Or maybe that is just me.

I’ll be honest, I am not a loud talker, which often results in people misunderstanding me. And I am not an extrovert. I tend to enjoy listening to others and secretly forming my own silent response to the conversations around me. This generally has lead to some people thinking I am a snob. Trust me I’m not. I’m just shy, but a great listener!

Is there some secret to engaging in speech that is meaningful? I know from a worldly perspective there is and I can find multiple answers from self- help books on how to win friends and gain influence. Or I could Google it and get many suggestions.

But, this is not really what I am trying to find. The question is, is there a way to engage in more meaningful conversation in our hurried, and usually stressful holidays that reflects our relationship with Jesus? How do we as believers create conversation that is just like those favorite holiday dishes. The ones we savor and enjoy. And ask for second helpings. Do we leave others wanting more?

How do we speak in a way that draws others into the conversation? How should we answers the comments of those with which we disagree? How do we open up conversations that leaves others wanting to know more about our faith?

Well, the best place to find the answers is not Google. Sorry Google. But, the Bible has a bunch to say about how we should talk; kindly, humbly, without any coarse language, demonstrating love and forgiveness towards others, patiently, without grumbling. It also encourages us to be prepared to give others an answer to the hope we have ( 1 Peter 3:15). I’m sure you can think of other ways the Bible instructs to speak. It’s a pretty long list.

I think the best advice is found in the letter to the Colossians. The Apostle Paul told the church there (and to us who read this letter) that we should “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”( Colossians 4: 5-6, NIV).

Did you catch that? Paul mentions salt. Now, that is a food item, so what does that have to do with speech? Apparently to Paul, it was important. And grace. How many times have we offered grace towards others in our speech? Are we quick to judge? Be critical? Condemn the other person impatiently, before we know the whole story; their story, and not the one we wrote in our minds for them? When the other person has made a mistake? When we are shopping for the holidays, and the salesclerk makes a mistake, resulting in over charging us? When the waiter/ waitress gets our food order wrong? Or when our spouse forgets an important task we needed them to do? Can we talk and respond in those situations with grace? What words do we use? What tone of voice do we use?

It isn’t as easy as it seems. We get stressed out at the holidays. And instead of reflecting Jesus, we reflect Scrooge. We argue with others online to hear our own voice. We send our food back to the restaurant’s kitchen and write bad reviews. We call the sales clerk out on their mistakes.

But, yet we want to share Jesus with the world. Our actions are like the substitute ingredient. It just doesn’t work. As they say actions speak louder the words. And our choice of words can either enhance the speech or ruin it. We can condemn or redeem. We need the right ingredient; grace.

We need to demonstrate this grace. We also, according to Paul, need to season our words with salt. Salt makes every dish better, and often has the effect of making us want more. Think of potato chips. Or crisps for my UK friends. It is difficult to stop at eating just one chip.

I challenge you this holiday season to read Paul’s letter to the Colossians. And then ask yourself ; Am I making the most of every opportunity? Are my words filled with grace and salt? Do I know how to answer everyone? The difficult people? The people who have made mistakes? The ones we disagree with? Am I offering others grace? Do my actions reflect this special ingredient? Am I impatient? Am I careful with the words I use? Are they building up the other person? Or tearing them down?

Jesus looks at the other person with love, and has offered them grace, the same grace He offered us. The same forgiveness that He offered us.We need to go and do likewise. – God Bless you – Nancy

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A Christian writer and teacher who loves to encourage and challenge believers in their walk with Christ. I am a graduate of Liberty University and the proud wife of an Air Force veteran and the mom of three grown adults.

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