Prime grilling season is nearly here! The Hardin household enjoys just about anything prepared on a Summertime grill. Hamburgers, hot dogs, potatoes, chicken, steak, vegetables… you get the idea. We give our grill a workout in warm weather.
Most everyone agrees that meat tastes better when it’s tender, but getting it to that point can take some extra preparatory work. Meat that is taken out of the package and immediately thrown onto the fiery grill ends up tough and not as flavorful. But taking your time and using one of two basic methods can make a big difference:
- Marination – the process of soaking foods in a seasoned liquid before cooking.
- A meat tenderizer – a pointed hammer-like tool used to pound and soften the meat.
Do you see where this is going?
In 1 Peter 3:8, the Spirit tells disciples of Jesus to have “unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” In Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Men and women who belong to Christ are to be tender in heart, sensitive to the dictates of God and eager to be molded by their heavenly Father.
Why is this important? In 1 Peter 4:12-13, we run across a promise.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
Whether I am tender in heart or not, times of fiery trial are going to come. But those who are Christ’s are blessed with a higher and holier perspective.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Bottom line: We will spend time on the grill of life. But maturing to the point of “counting” that time “with all joy” takes some extra preparatory work. If I bring complete self-centeredness to the fiery grill of life, I will end up calloused and bitter. Therefore, self-centeredness must be tenderized, crucified and transformed into God-centeredness if pure, enduring joy is to be realized and holiness is to be brought to perfection (2 Cor 7:1).
How does this happen? Via one of two basic methods that God has used for thousands of years.
- The marination of meditation — the process of joyfully soaking the soul in the wisdom, encouragement and training of God as revealed in his Word (Psa 119:97-104).
- The hammer of holiness — the painful process of God’s holy will colliding with our stubbornness, pride and self-will in an effort to soften, mature and prepare us to be used as instruments for righteousness (Rom 6:13).
In what ways does the hammer of holiness manifest itself today? God uses his living and active Word to reprove us (Heb 4:12), the courageous words of others to rebuke us (2 Sam 12:7), the encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ to redirect us (James 5:19-20), and the corrective discipline of the church to save our spirits in the day of the Lord (1 Cor 5:4-5). Our responsibility is to be receptive, responsive and repentant to the holy pounding of God’s tenderizing hammer (2 Cor 7:8-10).
Which leads us to this question: just how tender is my heart today? For my own good, must God take his holy hammer to my heart in order to remind me that he is God and I am not? And when (not if) he does, how will I respond? Will I heed the warnings preserved for a purpose in the examples of the Pharaoh of the Exodus (Exo 5:2), Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (Dan 5:20-21) and Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:20-23)?
When God uses his holy hammer, it is for my good. He is treating me as a son. “For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb 12:7-11). If the hammer blows are to have their full effect, I must be receptive, responsive and repentant.
But how much more pleasant to slowly, methodically, purposefully marinate in meditation on God’s holy precepts and allow them to have their intended effect (Isa 55:11). Take time today to soak your soul in the seasoning of God’s revelation. Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) and does good (Psa 119:68). Savor and relish the fact that the steadfast love of God is better than life (Psa 63:3)!
You will spend time on the grill of life. What are you doing to prepare yourself?