All humans have, at the core of our being, a collection of values that guide our behaviors, actions and words. These values may have come from a variety of sources (society, church, family friends) but we have chosen a select few for a place of prominence to help guide our navigation of life. Now not all values carry the same weight. We also have an established hierarchy so that when faced with restrained resources (time, money, etc.) our core values or those that are highest in the pecking order get funded. All others line up in their respective place. For example while I value fun, I treasure providing for my family, eating and my home so the bike stays in the garage and off to work I go. All too many have never really considered their values, how they came to adopt them, what their rank order is and how they play their vital role in governing our behaviors and actions. What so many fail to realize is that anyone who cares to notice can easily see what those values are, their order and anticipate how you would react in a given circumstance. I love people watching, in short order I can tell a lot about a person’s values simply by watching their actions and interactions with life. For instance I can tell whether there is a cross or a kettle at the heart of you.Now you city folks read carefully for I’m about to learn you something!
ket·tle (kĕt′l) A metal pot, usually with a lid, for boiling or stewing.
Kettle folks have a special place they put every wound, every slight, every bad thing in their life. They open the lid and put it in and then begin to stew on it. They rarely smile (slows down the stewing) they rarely are thankful or grateful and are the quickest to point out the wrong (so as to have more for the kettle) in something or someone. Just like physical kettles, emotional kettles have a capacity or limit. On occasion kettle folks blow up and “spew the stew” on those around them often over a seemingly minute incident. Kettle folks are prone to fits of rage because the stew in the kettle is toxic and like eating something bad, it’s going to come out forcefully. They walk through life hating and often being hated. They telegraph to anyone who cares to notice that they store their wounds and hurts. Next time you are in Walmart smile at everyone you encounter. Kettles will not only fail to return the smile; they will look away from you. Go to a meeting room and, if it is large enough, there will be a kettle there. They may measure their sobriety in decades but they are so negative and bitter that you wonder to what end. Surely if they had continued their use, they would be dead by now and wouldn’t that be more desirable than what seems to be a miserable, meaningless existence. And the sad fact is there are kettles in every church of any size. They know the name Jesus but refuse to let him exchange their kettle for the cross.
The cross was a landmark event. On it, Jesus took all my sins on His shoulders and let them die with Him. All the times I had/have/will fail, He gladly bore. And three days later, upon leaving the grave, He sought out those who had run, hid and denied Him. Not to open the kettle and “spew the stew” but to let them know that He had risen, that the cross had accomplished its purpose, and there was now no need for kettles. Jesus could have opened the kettle and let them have it for their actions, surely He felt hurt, betrayed, wounded by their actions, but instead He let The Cross be at the core of Him. How can I do any less? Cross folks have the realization that not only am I forgiven but that I can and should forgive others. They are gracious and full of mercy instead of stewing. They are calm when kettles are filled with rage because they understand that the cross accomplished this for not only them but everyone else as well. They navigate life showcasing that the cross works, that it has transformed them and they telegraph this message to anyone who cares to look. By their actions they attest to the transformation in their life. Because He forgave me, I forgive you.
Now I need to let you know that I’m not there yet. I’m like many that have both. I don’t want the kettle but all too often I retain hurts for later stewing. I’m a work in progress; an exchange in process. What keeps me going is that Jesus promised His Cross is easy to bear the kettle I know from experience is heavy. I’m tired of dragging hurts around from people long gone and having it affect those currently in my life. I want and need The Cross. This begs the question… Which one are you? Which do people around you see? Because someone is always watching how you interact with others. Will they come away from that time of observation with “definitely cross” or “definitely kettle”.
Thom Straley - Thom is the Executive Director at Step Seven Ministries & is a certified life coach specializing in addiction recovery and small business growth as Aim Point Coaching. To learn more about Aim Point Coaching, visit Thom's website by clicking the link above!