To Savor the Things of God
We have a choice to make in what we “savor;” what we delight in or take pleasure in. We can choose the things that be of God, or the things that be of men. Unconsciously we make those decisions all day long and I’ll speak for myself here, I bet I savor the things that “be of men” more often than not. It can be so automatic, so mindless, this pleasing of our flesh. But we are called to so much more than just automatic living in the flesh. We are called to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
Let’s come alongside Simon Peter for a moment, and see how he received a lesson on how to savor the right thing. Matthew 16:21-23 “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from Thee Lord: this shall not be unto Thee. But he turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me Satan: thou art an offence to me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
One of the difficulties Peter had in this moment was that he didn’t understand the foreordained will of the God. What Jesus had just said to the disciples didn’t make sense to Peter; didn’t fit with his Messiah paradigm for Jesus.
We are admonished by Paul in Ephesians 5:15-17 to, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
Here’s where Peter made his mistake. He heard what Jesus was saying through a filter of his own expectations. I’m no expert in these matters, but I would guess that this is common to man. We can all have an “expectation filter” that we process what we see, hear, and experience through, based on what we expect. In order to have a filter that serves the purposes of God, we must be aware of our expectations. Are they carnal, serving the flesh, or are they spiritual, serving the will of God?
Seeking first the Kingdom of God is the filter of a renewed mind. Everything we do, say, think and believe should be examined or tested with this question: “Is the Kingdom of God my priority? Is the will of God my foremost interest?”
Sometimes when faced with an issue, we need to stop and listen for what the Lord may be trying to tell us. If Peter had stopped to think about what Jesus had just said, remembering that the words were coming from the mouth of the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16), he may have held his tongue from giving the response his flesh wanted to express. We too can do a better job of controlling our flesh response when we take the time to examine that response in the light of our Kingdom priority. It is possible to “…try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord,” (Ephesians 5:10) and this should be our daily intention.
So much was at stake here in this Matthew 16 passage. The salvation plan of God was being challenged and Jesus’ stern response indicates how dedicated Jesus was to fulfilling His Father’s will. Jesus actually demonstrates for us how He used the priority of the Kingdom of God to discern what was pleasing or unpleasing to the Father. Peter’s statement and the flesh priority behind it was swiftly detected and then rebuked. In the same way, we are to resist and rebuke inclinations of the flesh and the world when they conflict with the will and purpose of God.
The ability to savor the things that be of God requires knowledge of the things that be of God. A consistent diet of the Word of God, fellowship through prayer with God, education through books and other resources, regular church attendance, all these known but effective avenues of learning will increase our knowledge and give us the advantage over the enemy when he attempts to lead us away from the plans and purposes of God.