“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.” I Corinthians 6:12 ESV
Last fall, Terry and I visited Asheville, North Carolina for a long weekend. Although the rain hindered any opportunity to hike, we spent some time touring French Broad Chocolate, a local bean-to-bar chocolatier. The tour guide explained how chocolate takes on the flavor profile of the region where it grows and explained how the beans are harvested, roasted, and made into a delicious treat. Learning more about the chocolate-making process made the bars, cake and liquid truffles even more exquisite. I remarked to my husband, “I’ll never be satisfied with Dove Promises again!”
Recently, I had a similar experience with coffee. I discovered that fair trade brands roasted in small batches have better flavor profiles. I love when the coffee bag notes the secondary flavors such as citrus and dark chocolate. In addition, I tend to prefer local coffee shops over chains. In the last year, I found myself buying more specialty brands of coffee. As I grew more accustomed to the better coffee, I started to disdain a basic cup of Joe!
This became a slight issue in our home. Terry can appreciate fine chocolate and great coffee but honestly, he enjoys a simple cup of coffee that tastes like coffee. He is not always looking for secondary notes and still enjoys ordinary chocolate like Hershey miniatures. I decided to break out the second coffee pot and we began to brew two pots to satisfy our different tastes.
This continued until I heard something interesting on the podcast A Drink with a Friend. The weekly podcasters, Seth Haines and Tsh Oxenreider, discuss living sacramentally while sharing what they are drinking. Seth lives near Onyx Coffee Lab, a popular coffee roaster in Bentonville, Arkansas which has the motto “Never Settle for Good Enough” and often shares his favorite blend of coffee on the show. In one episode, he was drinking a blend of coffee from Aldi. He did not really love this cup of coffee, but the ordinariness of it made him appreciate the good coffee. It led to a discussion between Seth and Tsh wondering that if you always have the best, can you lose your appreciation for the best?
I have been contemplating this question. I have relished the fact that I have cultivated a taste for good coffee and good chocolate. But if I juxtapose that constant diet of great stuff with the possibility of losing the wow factor, it causes me to pause. In addition, should I really spend my resources on the best all the time? Most importantly, what does God have to say about this?
In examining the principles of God, we know that He has created in us a desire for good things. He set his creation in the perfect garden with every available fruit and vegetable. He created the beans of both the coffee plant and the cacao tree, and man has discovered how to use them to make an incredible drink and a delicious food. He also instructed the Israelites to observe certain holidays and to celebrate them with food. In addition, the early church modeled hospitality by sharing meals together while growing in their faith.
The problem comes when we fixate on coffee and chocolate more than we fixate on God! In several places, the Bible clearly states that we need to be careful not to be overly concerned with what we are eating and drinking. Jesus also warns us in Matthew 24:38 that we will know His return is imminent when people are “eating and drinking” as in the days of Noah. This “eating and drinking’ is not our need for caloric intake to survive. Instead, it is referring to the pleasure-seeking mentality of the people in Noah’s day. Matthew Henry proclaims in his commentary, “they were unreasonable in it, inordinate and entire in the pursuit of the delights of their senses.” They spent a lot of time fixating on their food and drink, paying close attention to how it affected their senses to the point that they were ignoring the destruction of the world around them!
Jesus would be interested in the amount of money I could spend to maintain my high-end coffee and chocolate habits. He illustrated truths to his disciples using parables, often related to finances. He emphasized the importance of being a good steward and making good use of our resources for the kingdom of God. I need to be responsible with my financial resources, and carefully use them to bless my church, the mission field, and my community. I do not think the occasional French Broad Chocolate treat is wrong, but it needs to be an occasional budget expense rather than a constant indulgence!
Finally, the scriptures admonish us as to be moderate in how we live our lives. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul says, “All things are lawful for me but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.” I can enjoy the secondary notes of a good cup of coffee, but if I get to a point where I cannot enjoy an ordinary cup of coffee at a friend’s house, I have become enslaved by my coffee habit. I need to fight against my propensity to be pretentious, and instead, remain humble in all areas of my life.
I decided to put my second coffee pot away. (Why I have a second coffee pot is another story!) Some days we indulge in great coffee, but most days, I have an ordinary cup of coffee. I still eat Dove Promises, but occasionally splurge on a good truffle. I am choosing to live by the words of Epicurus, a Greek philosopher, who said, “Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance.”