We’ve all heard our moms say it: “Don’t eat that! You’ll ruin your appetite!” Whether she realized it or not, she was teaching us a very valuable spiritual lesson with those words, because God often uses the physical world to teach spiritual truths. By satisfying our appetites with something that is good, we could be ruining our appetite for something that is better.
Human nature being what it is, we often don’t want what is best for us. As children, most of us would have preferred pastries and candies over vegetables (especially lima beans, which I contend did not show up until after the curse). But as is also the case, God knows what is best for us.
Honey never spoils, but it can spoil us.
Did you know that about honey? It doesn’t spoil, or go bad. Sometimes it can crystalize, but all you have to do is heat up and it becomes liquid honey again. Like gold, honey is incorruptible, but Scripture says that it can make you vomit (Proverbs 25:16). Well, if honey never goes bad, how can it make a person sick? The problem must not be in the honey. It must be in the honey-eater.
Proverbs 25:16 “Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.”
Proverbs 25:27 “It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.”
Neither of these verses is condemning honey, or the good that can be found in this world. Even though the earth is cursed, there are still many things that God has been pleased to bless us with. The problem is that we can enjoy the blessings and forget God.
God’s Word is always good
In the Book of Revelation, John shares a vision he had. God had instructed him to approach an angel and to take from him a little book. The book represented prophecies that John would have to declare:
Revelation 10:9 “And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.”
Again, this is a vision, so this “eating” of the book is illustrative. It meant: “John, internalize this. Study it closely and make it your own.”
It is interesting that the angel first tells John that it will be bitter, then tells him it will be sweet to the taste. That’s because God never sugarcoats the truth. He always speaks to us honestly. But why sweet to the taste and then bitter in the belly? Because God’s Word is always good. It’s just not always easy to stomach.
After John “eats” the little book, it’s exactly as the angel had told him:
Revelation 10:10 “And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.”
God’s Word is always honest with us. That means that sometimes it tells us things about ourselves we don’t want to hear. Our natural reaction to that is to be resentful, and to want to blame something else for our problems – especially God:
“The foolishness of man [perverts] his way: and his heart [frets] against the LORD” (Proverbs 19:3).
“Perverts” means “to twist, pervert, distort, overturn, or ruin.”
“Frets” means “to fret, be sad, be wrathful, be vexed, be enraged, be out of humor.”
God has a way He has prescribed for man. It’s contained in His Book. But man always thinks his way is better:
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).
And when he ends up suffering the consequences of his actions, his immediate reaction is to blame God. But God is never the problem. He is always the solution.
There’s always one thing that is better than the blessings, and that’s the Blesser.
Sometimes in order for us to see that, God has to remove the distractions – and sometimes those distractions are the blessings themselves. In other words, God has to take away our honey.
Take Jonah as an example. God had blessed him with a great word of prophecy and a very effective ministry. He is one of the few (if not only) Old Testament prophets that actually saw great results:
(4) And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
(5) So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
The whole city got right with God – and Jonah hated it. In order for Jonah to see the selfishness of his ways, God gave him a blessing so that He could take it away:
(6) And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.
(7) But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.
Not only did God take away the prophet’s blessing, He made it worse for Jonah!
“And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:8).
Ever have one of those times where you prayed for a blessing and things only seemed to get worse? God did that to Jonah to expose a problem. He took Jonah’s honey so that the prophet could see that: he cared about a gourd, and not at all about the people of Nineveh.
In fact, God leaves that book kind of hanging. It ends with a question posed to Jonah without an answer from him. You’re left hoping that Jonah had the right response in the end, and maybe the book of Jonah is his response: “Here’s my life’s story and how I was a stubborn prophet. Don’t you do the same.”
So, now what’s your response?
Has God taken your honey and left you questioning? If the blessings seem to be wanting – or worse yet, disappearing – maybe God is trying to get your attention. Maybe the honey of this life has become a distraction and you’re failing to see things the way God sees them. Having your honey taken from you can be a bitter experience, but it can also be the best thing that ever happened to you. The question is: Are you seeing it that way?