I recently observed an Internet debate about, of all things, yeast in the Bible. The participants were trying to decide whether biblical references to yeast were meant to warn against something bad or signify something good.
The anti-yeast side pointed to verses like 1 Corinthians 5:8, where Paul writes of cleansing out old yeast so as to celebrate “not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
The pro-yeast camp brought up Matthew 13:33, where Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” I admit I found the discussion amusing in a Bible-nerd sort of way.
Both sides were right, of course. Yeast can be an analogy for either good or evil.
The point is that whatever is in our hearts will expand. It will work its way into the whole being. And then it will spill over the sides of our baking pans, as it were, into our actions and relationships.
Our hearts start out evil. Left that way, they are sure to poison everything we touch.
The Spirit’s work in a believer first changes the heart and then sets us on a course of filling our hearts with the things of God. As our forgiveness, righteousness, adoption, hope, and every other blessing of the gospel work on our hearts, we learn to love others out of that fullness.
Jesus put it this way: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
We want to foster a love for Jesus that will push out any lesser loves – knowing that whatever rules the heart will penetrate all of life.
This is the main idea behind Serge’s Sonship.
Critics of this approach sometimes challenge me.
One labelled it “trickle-down grace,” and suggested it was wishful thinking (at best) for me to expect a focus on God’s grace to trickle down into observable growth in holiness and love. That guy had me all wrong. I don’t think it’s a passive trickle at all.
I know it’s more like yeast; give it a few hours in a warm room and it’s bound to multiply. What comes from the heart is active and alive.
Those of us who teach or encourage others know that the effect often starts small, with just a little yeast. We speak a word of gospel encouragement here, another there. We pray for the Spirit to use it to produce quiet but sure growth in others, as it has in us.
But no matter our role in Christ’s kingdom, all of us nurture the gospel in our own hearts. We feed the dough with God’s Word and prayer. We keep it warm with joy in our Savior. We go out into the world where people are hurting and hope is rare and we tell of Jesus, and we bear burdens, and sometimes we suffer hardships.
We let that dough be kneaded and pounded until it becomes soft in the hands of our Maker and starts to rise. Until love spills over.