by May-Ellen Colon
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Proverbs 25:11, King James Version.
While we were missionaries in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Ismael worked for us as a “houseboy.” Even though he was close to 60 years old, he was a houseboy! I was grateful for Ismael’s help with the housework in a hot and humid climate. The added bonus was his cooking skills—he made gluten, potato casserole, crackers, granola, and anything else I taught him.
When I taught him to make granola, I showed him the jar of cinnamon to use to flavor the granola. As with the other food he prepared for our family, he got good at making our granola.
One morning, we served ourselves some of Ismael’s freshly made granola into bowls and poured over it some cold milk. Our children were the first to begin eating. Before they could swallow their first spoonful, they made a face. “Mom,” they blurted out, “This granola tastes funny!” Gaspar and I tasted ours and agreed. The granola did taste strange.
I went to my cupboard to investigate. Next to the cinnamon jar was a jar of celery salt. Ismael had obviously taken the wrong jar! Since he was illiterate
and the jars looked the same, he couldn’t tell the difference between the two.
This now-funny experience reminds me of the wise king’s counsel about how good it is to speak appropriate words. “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23, NIV). “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11, NIV).
Sometimes I catch myself saying “celery salt” words when I should be using “cinnamon” words. This is why I am glad for the divine help available to me to take the better course, to choose the better words.
Lord, May my words and actions be just the right seasoning in the environment where I am. Help me to make my world “taste” better today. And “may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, NIV).