I slammed my knife, flat side down, on the garlic clove. It made a loud bang against my cutting board and I felt it smash beneath the blade. I used a decent amount of force, nothing outrageous, but enough to get the job done. In order to chop garlic finely, it has to be beaten to a pulp – literally. I have used garlic presses before, but there is something so satisfying about just doing it myself. I love trying to see how tiny I can make the pieces with my knife. The only way to have finely chopped garlic is to crush it first. When I crush it, I release its full flavor and fragrance. The scent stains everything – my hands, my cutting board, even my knife.
As I was working away in my kitchen on the said garlic, I couldn’t help but feel like the Christian life has something in common with the strong-smelling bulb. Christians are just sinners, we carry around layers of sin and human failings. Just as the garlic has been plucked from the blackness of the earth and washed off, Christians have been raised from death to life and given a new heart. However, we are still left with those layers to peel away. We can do this by reading the Bible, praying, attending church, – all of which are fun. It’s the application of what we learn in the Bible and at church that can be crushing. When someone falsely accuses us of something, it’s really hard to just wait and let God vindicate that accusation. When we are scrutinized and mocked- sometimes by other believers – it’s very hard to love them anyway, to treat them with kindness, to pray for them.
Jesus understood our plight, for He was betrayed into the hands of His murderers by one of His own – Judas. Yet, He always treated Judas with kindness. He did this because Judas’ actions were His Father’s will for His life, and Christ was always obedient. Then, Jesus’ own faithful disciple, Peter, denied Him AFTER Jesus told him that he would do just that. Not only did Peter ignore the warning of the Lord, but He apparently forgot about it until that signal from the rooster echoed through the night. (Matthew 26:30-35)
David understood this pain, too. He ran from his friend, King Saul, while Saul was out to kill him. David had the chance to eliminate Saul off the planet and take over the throne God had given to him (1 Sam. 24:10). David didn’t do that, though. Instead he patiently waited for God to work things out. When Shimei mocked David and even cast stones at him, David did not retaliate. He viewed it as from the Lord and responded with humility. (2 Sam. 16:5-14)
I wish I could say that I had always responded gracefully in cruel situations but I haven’t. Any time that I have, it is because of the fruit of the Holy Spirit working in me. You see, when a close friend or loved one looks at your face and says hateful things, when they accuse you falsely, when they gossip about you and malign you, it’s like the flat end of that blade slamming down on your soul, crushing you. It’s especially painful when a fellow believer succumbs to such immature behavior. I am learning that it is actually a gift. It is in those times that the fragrance can be released; it is then that the evidence of the Holy Spirit can be seen. Once the pain subsides, we can recognize, as David did, that it is “from the Lord,” and we can receive it joyfully. In fact, here are Jesus’ words:
Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
“Blessed” means “happy” – we can be happy when we are reviled, persecuted, and falsely accused, knowing that we are in good company, that God sees the truth and knows it, and that He is working it all out for our good and His glory.
I know that I will be crushed again, and I am not looking forward to it. But it is necessary. I pray that when I am crushed next time, I will also be fragrant.
I Corinthians 2:14-15 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,…