• Jason Wade


6 Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies;

7 for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost.“Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. 8 You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments. Proverbs 23:6-8

There are always things that we don't like to do and the first thing that we think is "we just have to grin through it and bear it." We find ourselves beginning to live this life that revolves around us truly hiding the truth of our feelings in fear of someone really getting to the root of who we are. From a very young age we are able to begin living this merry-go-round of changing mask based on the context that we are in and the people we are around. For example, some of us are able to put on an amazing "face" when we go to church when in reality we are truly angry or anxious or living in depression. One of the craziest things is that we learn to use these masks at a very young age. I have seen babies that have learned to put on a certain mask to get what they want. For example, some babies learn if they cry, then someone will come to their room and check on them or even feed them. When they have received what they want they return to their normal state. Teenagers who are so self-conscious are putting on masks to hide the hurt and pain they experience every day when they go to school. They just let it go, but internally they are falling apart. As we continue to go through life we continue to create more masks to help us to deal with the different situations that we walk through each day.

It is amazing what we are willing to hide behind the smile. One other example I can think of is the waitress/waiter that has to work with people all day long. Anyone that works with people for an extended period of time knows that that can really wear on your psyche. One begins to create masks to make it through the shift when reality is tearing them up inside.

We are so good at creating this masquerade when Jesus teaches us to come before Him with everything exposed. We are terrified to come exposed to Jesus because of what the

rest of the world may do to us. If the world is able to find a point of weakness, they may truly attack us and beat us up even more. I mean think about some of the people that Jesus met while He was teaching. The Sadducees and the Pharisees were wearing masks of religion and showed a false example on how to live their lives. The Samaritan woman wore a mask in hopes of tryin to hide the reality of her lifestyle in hopes that no one would find out her true story. Finally, even the disciples were trying to make masks in hopes of stepping into leadership roles once Jesus overthrew the government. What they didn't realize was that Jesus was there to change the norm and not step into the world's reality.

Solomon is once again warning us to be careful of the company that we keep. In our lesson today, Solomon is trying to help us see through the masks of those who we may depend on or call "friends". I hope by now that you can see that Solomon is using both literal and figurative language once again. In the literal side, Solomon says be careful for the person may give you food but it may come at a cost. The person may not truly give you their best or they may even give you something that may cause you harm. When I think about this picture, I really do see Gordon Ramsey, a famous British chef, who is sitting at the table of one of these restaurants that he is trying to help and when he tastes the food he immediately gags and spits it out. That is the literal picture that comes to my mind in this teaching. The figuratively side is also one of caution. Solomon is warning us to truly find people that we can trust and surround ourselves with them. People who have agendas or are not truly sold out on your cause or vision will put on a mask to show support but on the other side will be sewing seeds of deception. It is hard because they seem as though they are your biggest ally but in reality they are not.

We live in such a world that has caused everyone to believe that they cannot truly be who God has created them to be. I see that in social media when people are lying about their age and creating these personas of who they want to be and not who they truly are...MASKS! I know that it is not easy to show the real person we are. We are terrified to step out and allow the world to see our scars and our failures. We want to paint this picture that everything is ok, but the best thing that we could do is show the world the truth. If we are able to take off the masks and show the beautiful masterpiece, though it may look more like a mosaic, we may be completely blown away at how the world may truly react. We are

blessed with the beauty of Christ in our lives and I really do wonder what the world would look like if we all were able to be real. I know that is something that we may never see on this side of heaven because of the layers of masks that we have created for protection and don't even realize. But I truly do pray that we can work towards being real and not hurtful... happy and not sad... trustworthy and not begrudgingly connected. We have too much opportunity to express the love of Christ in this world to live a masquerade life. May we truly pray and walk with each other to change the dynamics of our relationships to ones that can be open and free of the masks that we have created.

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