Recently I was reading about three American, female college students living abroad in Florence, Italy, who accidentally started a fire in their apartment after purchasing pasta from a local market and then attempting to cook it without any water.
Yes, you heard right. Without water! Now, as many of you already know, about the only thing I can cook is my own goose. But I…even I…know that water is necessary for cooking pasta.
The young women insisted to fire department officials on the scene that their exclusion of water was simply an honest mistake, because they genuinely did not know water was obligatory in the process of cooking pasta. While the damage to the apartment was minimal, the incident made the Italian newspaper La Nazione. As a result, the students’ culinary misadventure attracted jeering commentary, especially from Italian natives, who took the opportunity to poke mocking and belligerent fun at the college students as being stereotypical, careless Americans.
This unfortunate event did not escape the notice of famed restauranteur Fabio Picchi. In place of sarcastic barbs, Picchi offered instead the students a four-hour culinary lesson, which would conclude with lunch with the noted chef at his restaurant in Florence. Picchi told La Nazione that he felt guilty about the reported incident. “I feel there was a strong communication deficit on the part of this city. I think this can be useful to them, but also to us. Understanding is always—with simplicity and cognition—what is beautiful and necessary.”
I think Picchi’s understanding and gracious response to the whole embarrassing situation promoted necessary healing. Gracious responses generally do that…they promote healing. That is why we are admonished in Scripture to offer gracious responses verbally and otherwise in all of life’s circumstanc-es. In Colossians 4:5-6, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul instructs us in our responses to unchris-tian people: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer eve-ryone.” Our responses to unbelievers are to be salty, being tasty and performing as a morally, penetrat-ing preservative. Ephesians 4:29 likewise instructs us in our responses to all people: “Do not let any un-wholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Our responses are to be wholesome and beneficial to recipients, building them up; not tearing them down.
Gracious responses promote healing. And gracious responses are required of all Christians. But gracious responses don’t come naturally or easily. At least not for me. I don’t know about you, but my selfishness, impatience, and inward focus tend to get in the way.
I need to work on being more like Fabio Picchi…a gracious responder. That’s my personal prayer for the month of June. “Lord, make me a gracious responder!”
I encourage you to do and pray the same.
Your friend & pastor,