Flavoring Grace

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The Shorter Catechism says that the chief purpose of man is to glorify God as well as to enjoy Him forever. I see many church people trying to pacify God with unfelt obedience. I often see other oddly churchy folk trying to glorify God in a misdirected manner. I see self-aggrandizement and self- glorification nearly everywhere. But I see very few enjoying God.

The non-enjoyment of God leads to a dead faith and a bitter life. But the enjoyment of God nourishes faith. By enjoying the grace of God, we enlarge our appreciation of God, we nourish our faith, and we root the faith through happy  times in our hearts.

God has a quarrel with religion when the enjoyment of God is laid aside. Then there is lacking a spiritually balanced faith, and a warped faith is hard on others and bad for ourselves. Instead we need a spiritually balanced faith that recalls to us the Third Chapter of Ecclesiastes where the rhythms of a full life are listed and established. They are ordered and dignified by being used with proper appreciation of God in a life recycling way. (For there is a common grace by which life should be ordered, and a divine grace by which life should be illuminated and enlightened. To leave out either is not to have a life that moves toward fuller grace.)

If I tell you that to enjoy God and His grace is a moral obligation, it might kill the spirit when done by the mean who see religion as morality only, and a mean morality at that. You may not believe it, but there are people like that: as wolves peeping from behind bushes, eying and sighing, waiting and trying, to make the right into wrong through a dull and mean spirit.

I tell you that to enjoy God is a great resource and help in faith, because some of the best motives of faith are made out of gratitude to God for His grace and tender mercies. (Psalm 25:6) If you do not appreciate grace, how can you enjoy God or thank God? If you do not enjoy your way to God, you have a half God. You are not worshipping a full  Grace-Spirit. You may need a happier relationship with God that envisions and calls for a fuller sense of grace, a deepening and appreciation, through enjoyment of God and flavoring the many things He has graced us with.

I urge you to go about every day” flavoring” grace, being conscious of grace, and enjoying grace, that you may be moved to a greater appreciation of God and have a healthier relationship with Him.

There are many ways to go about flavoring grace: spend time with your child, go see the mountains (lift up your eyes unto the hills---         Psalm  121:1) go home to your spouse, work in a garden, watch the sun set, go blackberry picking as Henry David Thoreau did, retreat into the Wilderness as Jesus (Mark 1:13), but do go about enjoying God and flavoring the grace He has given you and given in this world.

It is not enough to just look at God’s wonders, but you should take time to appreciate them and enjoy the flavor of them. I have heard a form like this called “inviting the soul.” You may do these as well as others, meditating and praying, for prayer should be a appreciating period also.

Oh, I am told, I do not have time to go about flavoring grace. I cannot do that. I have a busy life and things to do. If you have a life too busy to flavor grace, then you have a much too busy life. You need to come to your senses. What doeth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, but lose his soul? (Matthew 16:26)

A good wine dealer will sniff the wine and sip it. He may talk meaninglessly on about the wine. He may talk in vague terms that seem silly. But he understands enough to try enjoying the flavor of wine. And if you ask him why he does this, he says: I am flavoring the wine. He knows customers will pay high prices for a good quality wine.

But is the life and grace given to you by God mean so little to you that there is to be no flavoring of it. Is not life more than a glass of wine? Life itself is a grace. Are life and  such nothings to you that you will not stoop to appreciating them? Is the grace given you such a mere bagatelle that you will not appreciate it?

Then why should God give such ungrateful children more, or, for that matter, any? Here is an illustrating story: There was a rich man who gave a banquet and invited all his friends. He put out a handsome spread. His cook brought out fine dishes of food.

Some of the guests were well brought up people who sampled and enjoyed the various dishes of food with approval. They said how good the food was. They did not eat and run but enjoyed the flavors of the food, compared them, and made polite conversation. They said how much they appreciated being invited to the banquet. They thanked their host when leaving.

But some of the other guests were very rude. They said they didn’t like the food. They griped and had rude manners and expressed coarse ideas. They appreciated nothing. Even the patience of the host was strained when his guests ate like pigs and left without thanking him. But the host, a good man, was polite anyway. Yet at the end of the banquet he was very happy to see the bad guests leave. When the doors finally shut behind the rude and thankless guests, the host said, “Hooray. THEY’RE gone.”

As for the good guests the host was pleased with, he wanted to have them back. But he was very happy to see the bad guests go. He would not have them back anymore. As for the people who behaved well, he put them on his guest list, telling his cook to provide some more good dishes for them that they might flavor next time.

Now the host is God and the banquet is the banquet of life where good things are spread out before us through God’s grace to be enjoyed. Which kind of guest would you like to be? Which kind of guest will you teach your children to be? What kind of guest are you now in this, God’s world?

For the bad guests to ask for more from God is pushing their luck. Will they not be taken off the grace list of those to be invited back? They have real nerve to ask God for more when they don’t appreciate the grace they have. Or consider later if those chosen by God for His guest list were not chosen for good reason. Will not the good receive more?

If you would have grace, behave with grace. If you would have more talents, use the talents you have. (Matthew 25:21)

So appreciate God by flavoring His grace. Go about enjoying God and the gifts God has given. Flavoring grace will nourish your spirit. It is a good thing to glorify God in your life and your work, but you will glorify God better when you enjoy Him more, spending some time each day flavoring grace.

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Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.