The Ministry Of Chocolate Cake & Proverbs 18:16

82662502-56a2145f5f9b58b7d0c661ab“When giving treats to friends or children, give them what they like, emphatically not what is good for them.” G.K Chesterton

Chocolate cake is my favourite fruit. If you are in my neighbourhood and see a bakery just pop in, purchase a chocolate cake, and bring it around. I shan’t mind a bit. I’m bound to offer you a slice with your tea.

Many people theorise that one can discern the sort of gift a person would like to receive by observing what gifts they like to give. Well then, I am living proof of this. I love giving away chocolate cakes it’s as good as getting one, especially if it’s a surprise.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from working in the world of missions, it’s being frugal with one’s resources and learning to ‘make a plan’ when those resources are exhausted. Then when you’ve done all of that and you still need to keep things afloat that’s where the ministry of chocolate cake kicks in. Okay, I’m giving away trade secrets.

The mission for which I work is well serviced by a fine IT support company, the name of which I will withhold to protect the innocent.  If you would like to know – contact me, I’ll gladly refer you. At the mission, we do employ the services of a variety of companies. Sometimes it pays to do a bit of proactive pampering. “Hah, self-promotion, bribery and manipulation, burn witch, burn witch.” I hear the seething mobs shriek. Well no, I refer to a little verse in Proverbs 18:19 rendered in the NIV thus; “A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.” Now before anyone gets their exegetically correct hermeneutics in a knot, I am aware that many would apply this verse to the spiritual gifts God has given each of us. Fear not, all in good time blithe rump–o’s, but let us examine the spirit of the verse.[1]

In my opinion, the spirit of the verse is one of finding favour with another, by doing an act of kindness. One may argue that this is not an unselfish act nor could it be argued that it is a selfish one[2] either since the one giving does, in fact, do an act of kindness. This could hardly be compared, for example, to Saul’s compensatory offering to God out of disobedience[3], since no obedience or disobedience is in question here. I won’t be going down the road of exhaustive apologetics on a single verse – I’m not planning to start the first church of the chocolate cake.[4] It should be sufficient to say that this does not fall into the area of tithes and offerings and giving alms to those who cannot repay you.

Which brings me back to “doe a deer…”[5], eh no…I mean chocolate cake. Every now and then, I trundle over to the offices of our obliging aforementioned IT support people with a chocolate cake. The reception I get is astonishing. Whoever sees me stops and greets me something like this;

“Oh hello you’re Matt.”

I know this and shake hands heartily and exchange my usual pompous booms, this is followed by.

“You’re the one with chocolate cakes.” They announce with awe.

Feeling a little like Mother Theresa I willingly receive this title. “They really are very nice, where do you get them…etc” they enthuse.

After a few exchanges like this, I feel almost blasphemous at this Palm-Sunday type welcome. I push through the crowd feeling like they are about to heave me onto their shoulders shouting;

“Chocolate Cake, Chocolate cake- it’s the one who brought us Chocolate cake.”

Then it’s time to share my genuine gift and that’s just a bit of me, since a bit of me is all I really have to give, what that is, is between them and me.

The cake gets me into the presence of people who may otherwise have ignored me[6] for the small-fry client that I am. (Missionaries aren’t known for their vast capital reserves.)  I can assure you I get better service than if I stomped in there pretending to be someone I’m not, demanding my rights as a consumer.

So what has this to do with you? Oh, I don’t know, I just got back from holiday; I had nothing else to write. In earnest though (I’m trying) there are a few universals here; sometimes we need to focus on the relationship- on people and what they need from us instead of demanding our rights and always looking for the better deal. Faithfulness in relationship and paying the workman what he is due.[7]

We also need to be aware of the gifts God has given us[8]. What is your chocolate cake? Let those gifts make a way for you. Discovering, or being reminded, what you are for in God’s economy may see you put to work. Work without the burden[9]. There is nothing quite as unsatisfying as doing what you are ‘not-for’. Do what you ‘are-for’! I think this applies to the how as well. Without getting into the abyss of gift identification, we can simply revisit what we already know about ourselves.

Methinks too many ‘gifts’ in that last paragraph, so allow me to put some skin on it; I am not a ‘worship leader’, that’s the character who leaps about belting out the in-hymn for the week, which is not my gift. (If you use a different term to gift, feel free.) In one of the home groups that met in our home, we were without a ‘worship leader’. I then lead the yelling at God with the songs that came to mind. I love to worship; I love to sing songs to God. I have a great time doing it on my own, but to lead others in a small group can be, though not always, a chore. It certainly lacks something in comparison to when someone with the gift does it.[10]

In short, it’s always harder to do things you’re not for and to sustain such a practice is not possible without either turning into a monster or making others miserable. It begins to show and you become a burden. (Sometimes a miserable monster, oh Shrek!)  Even knowing our gift and using it can get the same burdensome results if God isn’t in it. (That’s all about listening and watching though isn’t it?) Therefore, just as we surrender our sin and weaknesses to God, we ought to give the gifts back. Not rejecting the gifts, but surrendering them to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I think this is applicable to everything from being a hairdresser to pastoring. (I‘m just waiting for someone to tell me that there is no gift of hairdressing in the New Testament.)

Finally, the ministry of chocolate cake is about giving yourself away, not just giving what you have as a means to an end. Remember not everyone likes chocolate cake so be prepared to bake a little creatively.[11]

[1] See Matthew Henry Commentary online for a more cranial approach. http://www.ccel.org/h/henry/mhc2/MHC20018.HTM

[2] Proverbs 17:8,23 shows there’s always a wrong way of doing what appears to be an act of kindness.

[3] 1 Samuel 13

[4] Suggestions are welcome

[5] Sound of Music;. Rodgers & Hammerstein. Sorry couldn’t resist that.

[6]“ Gets him liberty to speak, and the favour of them that are esteemed” 1599 Geneva study Bible

[7] Luke 10:7

[8] For further reading; Romans 12:3-8; 1Corinthian 12&13; Ephesians 4 etc

[9] Matthew 11:30; Galatians 6:2

[10] For the best worship music visit; http://www.vineyardmusic.com

[11] For a recipe, I recall my nephew Daniel made one of the finest chocolate cakes I know, I suspect his mum had something to do with it though. Call me, I’ll refer you.

About Matthew Campaigne Scott

I'm a freelance writer and researcher. I have written for periodicals and websites, composed speeches and sermons and prepared copy for web advertisements and research papers. I can tailor my work according to your needs. I love a challenge and enjoy building work relationships.

Posted on February 21, 2018, in Creative Writing, Legal, Religious, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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