My thoughts (Julie Walsh):
I love to bake! I’ll whip up any type of bread, pastry, cake, or pie, but my favorite baking time is spent making cookies. All flavors, shapes, and designs of cookies. In fact, most Christmases I bake up to 25 varieties of delicious cookies to share with friends and family.
- 2 ¼ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups chocolate chips
Each ingredient is carefully measured and mixed. Then the dough is divided into portions and baked. But what comes out of the oven is still ultimately the same amount of each specific ingredient that went in — no more, no less.
I could always add my own twist to this tried and true recipe, but what would I gain? If I add two teaspoons of baking soda instead of one, the cookie will be bitter. If I substitute pepper instead of salt, then I will not have the proper catalyst to bind all the ingredients together and my cookies will have an unusual spicy flavor.
I like to think relationships are a lot like cookie dough. Jesus may be calling us to temper ourselves with:
- 2 ¼ cups love
- 1 teaspoon kindness
- 1 teaspoon tenderness
- 1 cup humility
- ¾ cup patience
- ¾ cup compassion
- 1 teaspoon respect
- 2 ears to openly listen
- 2 cups forgiveness
Instead, we often make alterations and substitutions to this recipe. Gossip in place of kindness, selfishness in place of tenderness, pride in place of humility, and criticism in place of compassion. Mix these ingredients together and we form a dough that will bake up some old-fashioned negativity and judgment.
Then we serve it to the people we know. A little bit to the boss, a little more to our spouse, and even more to the people we run across that we just don’t understand. And that’s not an easy cookie to swallow.
Jesus says, “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” But this isn’t the only passage where Jesus couples this proverb with his teachings. Mark 4:24 and Luke 6:38 also draw the same conclusion. In these teachings, Jesus says:
- Do not judge and you will not be judged.
- Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.
- Forgive and you will be forgiven.
- Give and it will be given to you.
- Whoever has will be given more.
- Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
If we dole out a generous serving of judgment and condemnation, then we can expect to receive the same measure in return when people respond in kind. But if we stick to the goodness of the original recipe, infusing our relationships with love and forgiveness, then we can expect rewarding relationships that will be tender and sweet.
Thought for the day: What ingredients are you mixing into your relationships? The measure of character you give is the same measure you can expect to receive in return.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.