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“How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.” (Psalm 119:103)

Has anyone ever tried to ‘sweet talk’ you? If you are known to have a competitive edge, were you challenged by the thought of a ‘sweet victory’ ahead? Or have you ever spent a lot of time bargaining for a certain outcome and ended up making ‘one sweet deal’? As Halloween approaches and children look forward to trick-or-treat activities, those who anticipate sharing in a sampling of the gathered candy might be asked if they have a ‘sweet tooth’. We even find that our music has references to sweetness, from the reassuring lyrics of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” to the cherished hymn, “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” For the most part, the concept of being sweet generally brings forth pleasant feelings. However, a very different impression is created when the words sour or bitter are used. In fact, there may have been a time when you may have been reduced to use the phrase, “it left a bitter taste in my mouth,” if you were involved in something that did not turn out particularly well.

The Bible contains many references to sweetness and bitterness. Moses threw a piece of wood that God had shown him into water that was bitter, and “the water became sweet. There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them” (Exodus 15:25). The Psalmist declared that “the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether . . . sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalms 19:9-10). One of the most interesting stories tells of God commanding the prophet Ezekiel to speak to the nation of Israel after he consumed a provided scroll. He was “to fill [his] stomach with it” and share the words with its people whom God considered to be “obstinate and stubborn” (Ezekiel 2:4). In Ezekiel’s vision, he eats the scroll God handed him . . . and we find the creation of an interesting image by which he needs to ‘fill up and digest God’s Word.’ By Ezekiel following God’s direction, he was able to absorb the message before it would be delivered.

Scripture states that both sides of the scroll “were covered with funeral songs, words of sorrow, and pronouncements of doom” (Ezekiel 2:10). Logic would expect that for any normal person, this unusual request might have been a bitter pill to swallow. But Ezekiel claimed that “when I ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth” (Ezekiel 3:3). Ezekiel seems to have acquired a taste for God’s correction. Instead of viewing His reprimand as something to be avoided, Ezekiel recognized that what is good for the soul is “sweet.” He was a man living in the center of God’s Will and in sweet communion with Him. He didn’t gloss over the sins of his people and chose to not focus on the what little good he might have been able to find within that society. What he did do was continue to warn his countrymen with all his heart, because that is what God specifically told him to do. Accordingly, he was hated for his testimony.

If we focus on how much God loves us, His challenging truths will begin to taste more like honey. If we are to become one of His messengers, we must first internalize these truths for ourselves before we are equipped to share them with others. When we do, we will encounter those who will accept its sweet aroma while we can anticipate there will always be some who will reject it. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15). As Christians, God wants us to be full of sweet things, and it starts by being filled with His Word and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. As I assume this in my own life, I can’t help but reflect on the lyrics of a chorus I have come to appreciate: “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place; and I know that it’s the spirit of the Lord.” There are times in each person’s journey when we do our utmost to avoid hearing the truth of God’s message. At times, we may find it to be a ‘bitter pill’ to swallow. Ultimately, we must begin to recognize that there is one true voice to whom we must listen. Then we will develop an decisive understanding of what it means to begin to live the life He has always had planned for us.  That, my friend, is the sweet life.

REFLECTION: How pleased do you think the Lord is with the aroma you set forth? When you seek spiritual guidance, have you ever found sweetness in challenging words that do not necessarily conform to your way of thinking. Can you deliver God’s truth to others who are seeking your advice about lifestyle issues that you do not believe to be in agreement with the teachings of Jesus? How might you apply Proverbs 27:9 – “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense” – in these instances?


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