God’s gifts are lavish and abundant
I love to cook! All joking aside about my lack of creativity, I find cooking to be a creative expression, an outlet, even a therapy. I love the thought of taking all these different little parts and using a variety of techniques to make something that tastes uniquely its own. In fact, so the chefs say, if you can taste one specific ingredient, you’ve put in too much.
Bread baking is my favorite. It’s a very tactile kind of cooking. It’s not good bread unless you can get your hands into it. It goes without saying that the scent wafting through the house for me and everyone else to enjoy is a large part of the pleasure. But I also like making bread because I don’t have to be overly exact with my measurements. Bread baking goes by how it feels because the dough may absorb more or less flour depending on that day’s level of humidity and barometric pressure.
Maybe that’s why I don’t like mixes. You have to follow their directions exactly and put in a precise amount of whatever they tell you to do. No wiggle room. Even cakes, quick breads, or cookies from scratch – precision measurement is the key to success!
Did you know that if you pack flour into your measuring cup compared to just spooning it lightly into the cup can make the amount vary by as much as a fourth of a cup? Tip: Stir your flour in the canister before you measure and DON’T do what I do. Spoon the flour into the cup instead of dipping the entire cup into the flour bin.
Brown sugar, on the other hand, has to be packed. You’ve done a good job of measuring it if it comes out in one lump when you turn it out of the measuring cup. And of course, you must always level off whatever you measure. Those extra bits of flour, baking powder or spices can make a difference on how your baking project turns out. Have you ever eaten something where the cook was a bit heavy handed with the garlic, salt, or pepper shaker? Yuck!
In God’s economy, the best kind of measuring is never level and definitely not scant. Luke 6:38 says,
“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
I learned this principle when I worked in the Haus Edelweiss Kitchen at TCM’s bible training center in Austria. Sunny, the head cook (don’t you love that nickname?), instructed us to fill the serving bowls and bread trays well, rounding and heaping the food. “We want to encourage the students to eat. Many students come from poor backgrounds. If they see a skimpy filled bowl, they will be hesitant to take what they need.”
God never skimps. God is always lavish with his blessings. Just look at a sunset. God could have designed the world so that when the sun goes down, it becomes dark. He could have created sunsets with a binary color scheme – gray and darkening blue. Instead, each sunset, splendid with a variety of hues, is different than the one from the night before. God’s blend of gifts are lavish.
Or consider spring flowers. Why didn’t God economize, create five kinds of flowers and call it good? Why didn’t he make just one pattern of flower so all irises look exactly the same? One view of my garden shows God spared no expense in the flower department.
Ephesians 5:1 tells me to be an imitator of Christ.If my Lord is lavish, I need to be lavish too. Whatever I give must be pressed down, shaken together and running over.
Now before you think I’m talking only about money, I’m not. As Miroslov Volf says in his book, Free of Charge (great book, by the way), everything, everything we have, use, or are is a gift. My ability to make bread is a gift. My piano playing – a gift. My putting words together is a gift. Even my unique personality is a lavish gift from my loving, creative Heavenly Father.
Gifts, in God’s economy, according to Volf, are meant to be shared and passed on. And the Bible says that we need to give abundantly, not out of coercion, or out of duty, but willingly, eagerly, generously, even – dare I say it – lavishly (2 Corinthins 9:6,7).
Heaped up. Rounded. Even running over.
I Peter 4:10 says,
“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things, God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
How do we put that in practice? It’s all in the attitude. It’s all in the focus of why you are giving and who you are giving to.
The next time you share your resources, attend a committee meeting, play your favorite instrument, serve a meal, think about the people who are receiving your gift. Pray for them. Wish God’s best for them. Think of their need and thank God He is using you to meet their needs.
I have a friend who prays for people while she makes homemade bread. She prays for the people who will enjoy her bread but she goes beyond that. I know because Kathy tells me that every time she makes homemade bread, she prays for me and my husband. What a gift!