Proverbs 27:7 “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.”
Revelation 3:17 “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
Do you know any picky eaters? Some people are so picky about their food that it seems very few things are good to them. It’s a condition of the well-fed, for there are some places in this world where food of any type is welcome. Recently I saw a magazine article about Venezuela. There were photos of people scavenging in garbage cans for something to eat. They were starving in the midst of a country whose economy is in shambles. Interestingly, there are spiritual parallels to this to which the Scriptures above speak.
If a person is full, things that might taste good otherwise hold no interest to them. However, if a person is hungry enough, “everything bitter is sweet.” In Matthew 5 Jesus speaks about those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. That’s the condition of a person who is spiritually alive. They have a spiritual appetite. The Bible likens them to newborn babies who “long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it (they) may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). They pray for God to teach them of Himself so that they might know Him better and walk in ways that glorify Him. And they acknowledge that things like suffering, loss, pain, and persecution that may enter their lives are all under the sovereign hand of a loving heavenly Father, and because of this, they can find “sweetness” even in such bitter things.
By contrast, those who are “full” of the things of this world often have little interest in spiritual food. Manna was called the bread from heaven. We are told that it was sweet like honey (Exodus 16:31). Jesus explains this Old Testament shadow with the following words: “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:32-33). And then He said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
But it is only the spiritually hungry that will come to Him. So often it is the physically full that have little spiritual hunger. That’s the way it was for the Laodicean church whom Jesus rebuked in Revelation 3 above. They had it all – a comfortable life, all the food they needed, and great wealth. The result was that they had turned their attention away from the One who had given them such blessings to the blessings themselves. It’s a common condition of the “well-fed” that we see throughout scripture. Sadly, it is such people that often have little hunger for the truly sweet things of life – such as the manna of Jesus’ teachings that have come to us from heaven.
May God keep us from the self-satisfied “fullness” that results in a lack of hunger for the most wonderful things there are. May He help us to stay hungry and thirsty for righteousness, and like newborn babies crave the pure spiritual milk of the Word of God – for it is in that condition that even the bitter things of this life can be sweet to the soul.
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