It’s almost Christmas, and time for Christmas pudding! So just in case Aunt Mildred brings some Christmas pudding to your house for Christmas dinner, you can discuss pudding proof . . .
“The proof is in the pudding!”
Where did that expression come from, anyway? Well, in the beginning “pudding” certainly wasn’t referring to the sweet treat we think of today.
“Puddings were gutsy (literally)! They were essentially sausages—usually mixtures of minced meat, cereal, spices, and often blood, stuffed into intestines or stomachs, and boiled or steamed. In the Middle Ages, they could be very good or very bad—or possibly fatal if the meat used was contaminated.” (Mirriam-Webster)
Oh, how yummy. The expression was originally “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” The only way to prove it was good was to eat it!
The expression has come to mean that the true measure of something can only be known by trying it or using it, regardless of how it looks or any promises made. You only know just how good Aunt Mildred’s Christmas pudding is by taking a taste!
Grammarist puts it this way: “the end result is the mark of the success or failure of one’s efforts or planning.”
The final product is the true proof of the pudding.
Today’s reading in Luke 19 gives us an example of pudding proof!
Short Zacchaeus, the wealthy chief tax collector of that region, climbed a sycamore-fig tree so he could see Jesus from above the crowds. Jesus called him by name to come down out of the tree because He planned to be Zacchaeus’s guest that day. How did Zacchaeus respond?
“Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. ‘He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,’ they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!'” (Luke 19:6-8 NLT)
Zacchaeus showed a change of heart that led to changed behavior. He wasn’t worried about what all of those gossipers had to say; he wanted to please God. His new generosity and spirit of restitution was the proof of what had happened on the inside.
How did Jesus respond?
“Jesus responded, ‘Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost'” (Luke 19:9-10).
How’s Your Pudding Proof?
Has Christ made a difference in your heart and in your life? Can that change be recognized by others from the outside? Paul wrote,
“For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people” (Romans 2:28-29).
A changed life will be the natural effect of a changed heart. Living to please God will lead us to express more love to others through word and action.
I want to be careful to say that we do not live to please God in order to earn a good standing with him. Christ purchased that position for us!
“For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort” (Philippians 3:3).
While we can’t earn God’s favor, the Christian life should be noticeably different from that of those who do not follow Christ as we submit to the Spirit’s leading day by day.
Over the next few days leading up to Christmas Day, life is going to get hectic out there. Maybe you’re all prepared, but there are a million folks who aren’t! They’ll be rushing around, driving distracted, cutting in line in the store, upset that they can’t find Little Timmy’s most requested toy, distraught that they’re having trouble finding the exact Christmas pudding ingredients Aunt Mildred asked for . . .
In the midst of the pre-holiday stress, let’s be shining examples of love and peace to the world. Pray that God would fill your life with his presence and seep out the seams!
We know the True Gift of Christmas Peace, so let’s refuse to get caught up in the frazzled distress that so many experience this week. Share God’s love with those who are!
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5