Years ago, I was listening to a sermon from Beth Moore where she gave an illustration that has had a profound impact on my life. She said she was working one morning and her husband had made a run to the grocery store. When he returned, he quietly brought her a cup of coffee and a croissant and set it beside her on the desk.

In a moment, she took a break from her thoughts and picked up the croissant. It was warm and toasted and when she pressed the bread together to take a bite, golden butter oozed from the flaky layers and wet her fingers. She said to those of us listening, what we are baked in comes out when we are pressed.

I don’t remember anything else about her message. Not the scripture references. Not the historical and cultural context. But I do still remember that life application. I think about it often. I share it when I’m speaking. It rings just as true for me today as it did the first time I heard it. And it makes me ask myself the question, “What am I baking myself in?” Because friends, Beth is right. Whatever we bake ourselves in will undoubtedly reveal itself when life presses us.

1 John 4:8 says, “The one who does not love has not been acquainted with God, for God is love.” The Amplified Bible goes on to say that someone who does not love had never known God because God is the originator of love and it is an enduring attribute of His nature. So if we do not love, we are not really friends with God. I don’t know about you, but that’s a challenging concept for me to acknowledge.

I am teaching in the book of James right now and one of the things James states over and over is how faith without works is dead. We will be known by our actions. If we have love in our hearts, then love will be evident in what we do. Love will be evident in how we react and respond. Love will be evident in the fruit that our life bears. Love will be evident in how we weather a storm.

If love is not demonstrated towards others who are difficult for us to love, then our actions are not of God. If love is not our reply when situations are less than desirable, then our response is not of God. If love is not given freely when we are aware of someone in need, then our expression is not of God. And if love is not the emotion we allow to triumph over our other emotions, then our focus is not of God.

Times of trials, temptation, and tension are perfect opportunities to sincerely evaluate how closely we connect ourselves with God. What is the most honest response we can give to the question, what am I baking myself in? Because if love is absent, then what we are baked in is something other than God.

We don’t always get this right. Heaven knows there are plenty of times that I haven’t gotten it right. And in that lies a beautiful truth about our Father. He is always ready to greet us anew. Today is a good day to put ourselves in the oven. To saturate our hearts and minds with His Word. To season ourselves with thanksgiving and praise. To feel the warmth of His love that penetrates the coldest heart and makes it alive and filled…with love. Peace.