Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Keep Something Behind the Counter

I hadn't planned on it.  I just happened.  When I opened my Bible to read the next chapter of Leviticus, my eyes caught on the previous chapter and something clicked.  There are times that a verse taken by itself is exposed.  Don't get me wrong, context is vital to Biblical interpretation, but to see a verse alone sometimes reveals detail that might otherwise be overlooked.

I have often wondered about  term "leaven" as used in the Bible: the leaven of the Pharisees, leaven in the dough, how dangerous a small amount of leaven can be. I have had no satisfying answer until today as I sat down to read chapter 3 and my eyes reread verse 11 from chapter 2.

"No grain offering, which you bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the LORD."

It suddenly struck me.  Leaven gives a false appearance. It puffs up and expands the essence of what is there, making it look larger. It adds an airy texture when eaten. And, in the same way yeast, or leaven, would mislead honey adds sweetness making grain more appealing, more tasty, more indulgent.  It's not that God doesn't like things big or sweet or good.  He made all things.  He IS big and sweet and good.  But when it comes from me, a person, a created being, the focus is due God, not myself.  How easy it is for me to puff myself up, to try to appear bigger and sweeter and more attractive to others (sacrifices were offered in public, remember) and to God.

The leaven of life is pride. A little goes a long way. I apply it when I seek to draw attention to my actions or appearance or worth, puffing up what little I have, expanding the essence of what is actually there. I present myself as having greater importance and substance than what an honest appraisal would reveal. The honey is much the same, although it makes me think more of flattery, of sweetening the deal. I may be sour as a lemon, bitter as lye, but present myself to God and others in a falsely appealing way.

So for now, today?  The offering of my everyday life, the grain that comes in and goes out, must first be finely ground, well masticated, used fully. It is what it is. I am what I am. There is nothing special, better than, or exceptional other than the fact that God has sovereignly ordained each part. Humility, a lack of leaven, is practiced as I present what He has given with gratitude and honesty.

Chuck Swindoll's grandfather taught him to "always keep something behind the counter."  This doesn't mean  we should hold back what is due; rather, we should be honest about what is in the back room.  If I don't have any for sale, I shouldn't put it out for display.  May I say the same is true of our Christian lives.  Speaking to myself: If I don't have any in the backroom, it has no place on the counter.

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