This has happened more times than I would care to remember. We’re at a restaurant, hungry, eager for a good meal. The menu displays photos of select items from the extensive array of options, and each looks delicious—well, most do, anyway. How many times have you ordered a pictured item? You can’t help it, right? The presentation in the perfectly staged photograph leaves your mouth watering in anticipation of the real thing.
Then it comes. Why does what you get on your plate never look like the menu picture? Actually, I don’t bother with that question—I worked as a cook in a restaurant and already know the answer. I really don’t expect it to look as nearly perfect as in the picture; I’m more concerned about how the meal tastes!
Here’s where the disappointment comes in. The picture in the menu and the mouth-watering description of ingredients built up a reasonable expectation of deliciousness. But alas, something isn’t right. Sometimes, the food was so salty I couldn’t quench my thirst. Others, the garlic was overpowering or the pepper or the chilis. There have been occasions when it tasted nothing as I imagined. Given my reticence to complain, I can’t recall ever asking for a replacement. Nevertheless, I’ve left a restaurant disappointed more than once!
On the other hand, there have been experiences of just the opposite. The picture captured my attention; the description of ingredients aroused my appetite. And when the dish was delivered, the first bite drew a satisfying “Mmmmm! This is really good!” How wonderful when the perception and anticipation created by the photo are satisfied—even exceeded!—by the actual taste!
With that as a backdrop, hear what Thomas Manton had to say (I’ve taken the liberty to update the English a tad and use my illustration).
Love makes faith more operative; there is a knowledge by sight, and a knowledge by taste. A man may guess at the goodness of [the menu item by the photograph], but more by the taste; that is a more refreshing apprehension. Augustine prayed, “Lord, make me taste by love what I perceive by knowledge.” Surely, we are never sound in Christianity till all the light we receive be turned into love.
Charles Spurgeon picked up on this quote and commented in his little book, Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden.
It is so. Love comes to close dealings with truth and gets a true knowledge of it than any other grace. A hot iron, even though blunt, will penetrate further into a board than a cold tool, though it be sharp; and so love enters further into truth than mere thought or study can do. David would have us “taste and see”; for the palate sees more into the essence of things than the eye can do; love discovers more than reason can ever know. That which love learns is also more useful than the cold notions of the brain, for it sets men working for Jesus, and leads them to follow him, and make them willing to suffer for him. We have heard of some who could not dispute for their Lord, and yet they died for him—and were not such among the best of his followers? He who only knows truth in the light of it is not worthy to be compared with the believer who receives truth in the love of it.
O Lord, let me never use the gospel as a pillow for my head, but as medicine for my heart. Do not allow me to be content with mere knowing. Cause me always to be deeply in love with your Word.