I sat in a new-to-me church, visiting family over the weekend, and the moment hit. The pastor preached from James, and talked about controlling your temper. The word stood out–the smile hit, and I shook my head.
Those in the baking world know of this seemingly-elusive, magical process whereby chocolate is made the perfect temperature for the perfect hardening. If you have ever watched food-related cable channels and seen the chocolate sculpture competitions, tempering is critical for the chocolate to withstand the weight and complexity of sculptures often more than 3-feet tall.
Tempering chocolate is bringing chocolate to the perfect temperature so that when it hardens, there is a good “snap”, a melting point near the normal body temperature, and a beautiful sheen to the chocolate. Opening a box of chocolates gives you that glimpse of the mastery of chocolate temperatures.
But when it goes awry, when the chocolate goes out of temper, it “blooms”–becomes ashen-colored. It not only looks odd, it is weak and melts too easily, making a mess of things.
Holding our temper is much the same. A mature temper is one that is able to carry weight, snaps only when appropriate (remember Jesus in the temple?), and shares a beautiful reflection with the world.
But if our temper is not held, we fall apart, melt too easily, and offer an offensive-looking vision to the world.
“A quick-tempered man acts foolishly…” –Proverbs 14:17
Tempering chocolate, like building an enduring, strong temper, takes time, patience, and a lot of stirring. Are you quick to change attitude? Quick to judge? Quick?
“And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things…” –I Corinthians 9:25
Those on the quest to gain wisdom, patience, and the ultimate prize of faith have this in common: being temperate.
May we take a lesson from the glossy chocolates in the box: tempering takes time, but it’s result is worth the work.