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October 25, 2015

The Truth About Pumpkin Spice

It’s that time of year again. Leaves are falling, weather is cooling off and everything is pumpkin spiced. Whether it is your latte, scone, muffin or pie, pumpkin is literally the flavor of the month. Or is it? Let me share a well-known, but typically forgotten, piece of information: pumpkins don’t really have much, if any, flavor. They also don’t have much of a scent either and what they do have isn’t particularly good. Around our house when someone cuts into a pumpkin (usually me) someone inevitably asks “Who squeezed the hedgehog?” which is our code for passing gas.

It’s an easy mistake to make because fresh pumpkin kind of stinks. It is the last thing you would make a scented candle to match other than for a cruel novelty item. However, I bet most houses burn a pumpkin candle in October. The thing is, the taste and smell we all associate with pumpkin products really has little, if anything, to do with pumpkin. The deliciousness and fragrance of pumpkin is actually the deliciousness and fragrance of brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Without these added seasonings your pumpkin delights would be bland, blah and barely edible and your candles would be more stench than sweet. But when the right seasonings are added who can resist the rich taste? Who can turn a numb nose to the enchanting aroma?

I think Christians can be a lot like raw pumpkin. On our own we can occasionally be a little blah. We lack flavor and let’s be honest, sometimes the scent we give off makes people around us ask, “Who squeezed the hedgehog?” But I don’t think that’s the way it needs to be. I don’t think that’s the way it should be. I believe the work of God’s Spirit does in Christians what your spice rack does for your pumpkin pie – it seasons us up.

The Apostle Paul gives us the ingredient list in Galatians 5:22. Instead of brown sugar, add love and joy. In place of cinnamon how about a dash of peace and patience. Rather than nutmeg, sprinkle in a little kindness and goodness. Leave out the cloves and insert some faithfulness and gentleness. And last, but not least, replace the ginger with a pinch of self-control. These spiritual spices transform my life from bland and mushy to sweet and succulent, particularly in God’s eyes. Ephesians 5:1-2 calls us to be a fragrant offering to God and 2 Corinthians 2:15 says we are to be the aroma of Christ. We’ll never become that on our own – we’re just the pumpkin, but the more we allow the Spirit to flavor our thoughts, words and actions the more those around us will take note and say, “Hmm, that smells good!”

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