We don’t often fry foods; frying can be messy, and fried foods aren’t very healthy. Once in a while, though, we do fry thin-cut, lean pork chops. We set the gas at medium to control the heat and put a lid on the skillet to minimize the spatter of the sizzling olive oil. A few days ago we discussed putting a lid on pots to prevent things from boiling over, and we compared the precaution to “setting a guard” over our mouths, lest we blurt out stupid and hurtful words. Keeping a lid on things is the best way to avoid having to clean up a mess, whether it’s on top of the gas range or in a relationship.
It’s impossible, however, to keep a lid on the skillet throughout the entire frying process. You have to remove the lid to turn the chops (or whatever you’re frying), and when you do, droplets of flesh-searing oil take the opportunity to spatter your hands and the top of the range. And — wouldn’t you know it? — those red-hot spatters of grease are just like words! Sooner or later, no matter how careful we are, we’re going to say something stupid or hurtful. We’re all sensitive about something, and some of us may be overly sensitive; so when we consider the human propensity for “Foot-in-Mouth” disease, we realize that when interacting with others, eventually someone is bound to get burned by a sizzling word.
When frying food, we expect to have a few oil spatters, so we keep a sponge with a little ammonia nearby. When the skillet spats at us, we wipe away the grease right then and there. Cleaning things up fast is always best, because these spatters can be nasty and things can get sticky, just like harsh words in a relationship if not quickly dealt with. But what substitutes for ammonia when cleaning up the messes we make with our mouths? Something much stronger than ammonia, something that removes even the toughest stains. No, not Tide! LOVE!♥♥♥
If you’ve read a few of these posts, you’ll realize we love old movies (and a few new ones, too), but movies, even the ones that seem realistic, are glamorized depictions of life. Hollywood tends to varnish life so it shines brighter. (As though life weren’t already bright enough — but then, that’s why Hollywood is called Tinsel Town.) It also espouses its own crazy philosophy. You can enjoy the show, without buying into everything Hollywood presents as “wisdom”! The 1970 tearjerker Love Story is a great example: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” That might look good on a cheap t-shirt, but if you practice this philosophy you’ll never have a “love story” — or any meaningful relationships!
TRUE love is quick to say “I’m sorry” — wherever and whenever your words offend. And as often as your words offend! In fact, TRUE love means actually getting into the habit of saying, “I’m sorry I hurt you again. I was wrong. Please forgive me.” Here’s the two-step cleaning process: first, apologize to God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 KJV)
Second, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16 AKJ)
Making a habit of apologizing requires us to get rid of stinking pride. It’s humbling to admit when we’re wrong, but it’s always necessary. And it takes God’s grace, the supernatural strength to do what’s right in a difficult situation. So take responsibility for your words and actions. Don’t try to shift the blame. Don’t make excuses for bad behavior. Say the magic words: “I’m sorry.” Say it like you mean it, and say it quickly, before the mess gets out of hand. Don’t walk out the door or go to bed without making things right. Hurts build up and harden, like spattered grease on the rangetop. It’s easier to clean it immediately than to wait for another time. Apologizing only gets harder the longer you wait.
“…Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26 NLT)