Of Rice and Relationships (Angel in the Kitchen)

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We caused quite a stir with a previous article, “A Stirring Message,” in which we discussed the importance of stirring things up: certain foods
and beverages require stirring to obtain the proper flavor and consistency; similarly, each of us should “stir up” the gifts and talents God has bestowed, in order to bring out our best and most consistent qualities.
However, when it comes to certain methods of cooking, we get the best results by NOT stirring! For example, good cooks agree that if you want to prepare rice that’s fluffy, not gooey and sticky, the secret to success is simple: don’t stir the pot!

Rice is a staple food in numerous countries, including the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, respectively the birthplaces of Wilma’s father and mother. In their cultures, serving sticky rice is an unpardonable sin, which is why Wilma’s Mamita taught her the secret to good rice: fill the pot with just enough water to cover the rice, bring the water to a boil, add the rice, reduce the heat, cover it — and then leave it alone! Do. Not. Stir. It!

Stirring the rice mixture will upset the proper balance of steam, and also cause the release of excess starch (which results in the grains becoming gooey and sticking together). But for many cooks, following this simple tip is easier said than done. Some of us just can’t resist removing the lid and stirring things up! The same can be said of our relationships. The secret to success in all social interactions is simple: don’t stir the pot! Ignoring this basic truth can lead to some sticky situations and generally makes a (gooey) mess of things.

The well-known idiom “stirring the pot” can be defined as: promoting feelings of annoyance, agitation or dissatisfaction; by encouraging tension and conflict between two or more people — or groups of people — in order to make trouble or to elicit a strong emotional reaction. Simply put, “stirring the pot” involves any words or actions intended to get someone emotionally worked up!

We all know someone in life, next door, at the job, down the street, who seems to take great pleasure in stirring things up. They revel in creating strife, division, and needless drama. Sometimes these people are just bored, so they try to liven things up at someone else’s expense. Sometimes the “pot stirrer” has more selfish reasons, and hopes to gain some advantage over another person. Sometimes, however, there are more devious psychological motivations at work. For instance, because “misery loves company,” a discontented person will do his best to stir up discontent.

Really? How sad.

Pot stirring can take many forms, such as teasing or “joking” about an emotionally painful relationship or situation; making provocative statements intended to fuel the flames of discord; or … repeating gossip!

Spreading rumors — or simply repeating the news about someone’s problems, setbacks, and relational confrontations — can stir up more bitterness, more strife and more division. It also hinders God’s ability to heal emotional wounds and bring unity.

The Bible gives a strong warning to would-be pot stirrers: “There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven: haughtiness, lying, murdering, plotting evil, eagerness to do wrong, a false witness, sowing discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19 TLB) This, of course, is not an all-inclusive list of the actions and attitudes that grieve our Lord. But interestingly, stated together in this single verse, are several offenses which clearly define the act of stirring the pot. And if God “hates” these thIngs, we can assume that He does not prosper the pot stirrer. In fact, the opposite is true: God bestows His particular blessings on the peacemaker!

“Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous — with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!” (Matthew 5:9 AMPC) Let’s receive this as the primary lesson of God’s “Pot Principles.”

The second lesson is for all those of us who at one time or another have been on the receiving end of pot stirring. If you’ve been the victim of gossip, or falsely accused, or punished for doing the right thing, God wants you to keep your cool — to paraphrase the fictional character James Bond, shaken but not stirred! — and remain in peace. Life is not always fair, but then, you knew that. Right? Furthermore, God is our advocate; He is always just, so we need to trust Him to vindicate us in any given situation. The Biblical Joseph did this, and things worked out better than he could have imagined. Read his hair-raising life story in Genesis 37-50.

You finally ready to stop stirring the pot?

The third lesson of God’s Pot Principles dovetails nicely with #2. It’s always best to let God do the stirring. Be stirred by His Word, by His goodness, power and wisdom. “He is the Rock; His deeds are perfect. Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright He is!” (Deuteronomy 32:4 NLT)

And remember, stirring the pot is bad for both rice and relationships!

“Stir up Yourself, and awake to my vindication, to my cause, my God and my Lord. Vindicate me, O LORD my God, according to Your righteousness; And let them not rejoice over me.” (Psalm 35:23-24 NKJ)

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