Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Making the Sweet Bitter

How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
    therefore I hate every false way.  (Psalm 119:103-104)

When believers have received these naturally sweet words, either they live well or they do exactly the opposite. And if indeed they behave in accordance with the divine standards, they preserve God’s words in their original sweetness. In my way of thinking, however, I consider that by the goodness of their way of life they actually increase the pleasantness of God’s words, as they mingle the delightfulness of their lives with the sweetness of the language.

But if, on the other hand, someone should sin and “walk crookedly” outside the commandments of God, that person receives the sweetest words of God but reduces all the pleasantness to a bitter taste, by virtue of the nature of the most bitter sin—for sin, which which drives out the sweetness of the words, is bitter.  Listen to an example, so that you will be able to attend more fully to what I am saying.  The plant which is called “absinthe” is naturally bitter; and if you put it into honey in proportion to the quality and quantity of the honey, it overcomes the honey’s sweetness by means of its own bitterness, and forces what is sweet to become bitter.  Sin has the power of this plant.  If I commit more sins, I introduce more bitterness into the sweetness of God’s words.  If my transgression is great, I turn all the sweetness of the honey into a bitter taste.

Origen of Alexandria: Exegetical Works on Ezekiel, 12.1.1-2

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