I love to bake. Baking is my time. Baking is comfort and solace. Baking is creating; and its results, the final masterpieces, engage all the senses, and may even make a few people happy. I LOVE baking. I am, however, a recipe baker. I can follow a recipe like nobody’s business, but I don’t invent my own recipes from scratch. I may improve upon an existing recipe by adding or subtracting an ingredient here or there but, to put me in the kitchen without instructions or a guide of some sort? The results could be disastrous. Last week I tried a new recipe for a friend’s birthday. I got the recipe from a YouTube video and as it turns out, I did not have enough information. The recipe was a flop. I had to toss a whole twelve by nine of custard and phyllo in the trash. It was a sad day for the foodie in me. I found a second recipe that was nearly identical in measurements but the instructions were far more detailed and thus, easier to understand. I ended up with a delicious and successful galaktoboureko because someone took the time to break it down. So it is with my faith. I like nice, tidy recipes for living. I like a list of dos and don’ts and well defined boundaries. The Bible tells us in Matthew 22:37-40:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Pretty short list of ingredients, with pretty broad parameters. I clearly understand what it says, but what it means and how to put it all together so I can live it out is another matter. How? How do I love God and my neighbor? What does that look like? Perhaps 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a can tell me. And just like any good recipe, I’m gonna flesh it out a little to make it perfectly clear.
- Love is patient. DO: wait on God and His timing; be charitable, generous, long-suffering, and thoughtful. DO NOT: be impetuous, impatient, hasty, or harsh.
- Love is kind. DO: treat others gently, compassionately, and with understanding. DO NOT: be mean, cruel, inconsiderate, or hurtful.
- Love does not envy. DO: be content with all you have (because we have an awful lot). DO NOT: be jealous of others for what they have that you don’t.
- Love does not boast. DO: be modest, unassuming, and prudent. DO NOT: swagger, show off, or toot your own horn.
- Love is not proud. DO: be humble, courteous, and unpretentious. DO NOT: be pompous, pious, presumptuous, or arrogant.
- Love does not dishonor others. DO: be respectful, honor and esteem others; give credit where credit is due. DO NOT: be disrespectful, slanderous, rude, or degrading.
- Love is not self-seeking. DO: be benevolent, giving, unselfish, and caring. DO NOT: be selfish, narcissistic, or egocentric.
- Love is not easily angered. DO: be calm, joyful, understanding, and patient. DO NOT: be quick-tempered, moody, spiteful, or cantankerous.
- Love keeps no record of wrongs. DO: be forgiving; show favor and tolerance. DO NOT: be bitter or resentful, hold grievances or grudges.
- Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. DO: be happy when others do well, and when truth and justice prevail. DO NOT: be glad something bad happens to someone, and do not take pleasure in doing harm to others.
- Love always protects. DO: shield, support, and defend others. DO NOT: harm, injure, or neglect others.
- Love always trusts. DO: confide in, have faith in, and depend on others. DO NOT: disbelieve, be suspicious, or doubt others.
- Love always hopes. DO: dream, aspire, hold on, and cherish. DO NOT: despair, fear, be indifferent or hopeless.
- Love always perseveres. DO: be determined, steadfast, and resolute; endure. DO NOT: give up or give in; be idle or lazy.
- Love never fails. DO: succeed, triumph, and thrive. DO NOT: be defeated, abandon or ignore others.
The world of baking is a lot of trial and error, and I believe the same can be said for our relationships with God and each other. God has laid it out; we simply need to follow the instructions. We learn from our successes and our mistakes what works and what doesn’t. So, whether you are mixing up a batch of killer chocolate chip cookies (which, by the way, I have recently mastered), or piecing together an example of loving God and loving others, a good recipe will endure for generations. ☺