I was watching an episode of Chopped this weekend. I love that show. Four chefs compete to win $10,000. They are given a basket of four ingredients that they must use in their dishes. They start with the appetizer round, move to the dinner round and finish with the dessert round. The fun thing about it is that there is at least one crazy element, usually two that they must include in their dish. And so, it’s a challenge. They have to cook with ingredients that don’t necessarily go together and they have a time limit to boot. There is no planning or strategizing. They have to be quick on their toes to come up with edible dishes to present to the judges. I find it very entertaining.
This weekend, I watched an episode where the two chefs that made it to the final round were very different. The first chef was a young man in his mid twenty’s that has accomplished a lot in his short career. He was already an executive chef. He was married and owned a house. He was a very capable competitor that seemed to relish in the competition itself. He was used to beating the odds and was enjoying the challenge. He was very confident in his abilities and rightly so. He was very established and talented for such a young man.
The other competitor was a woman who was also an executive chef. She was a bit older and had not accomplished all that the young man had. She was definitely capable though. She was calm in her demeanor and very thoughtful about her food. She enjoyed the competition as well but mostly because she wanted the judges to see what she could create. She wasn’t in it to blow away the competition. She was in it to cook. She liked the challenge of cooking with items she wouldn’t normally put together to see what she could come up with. She had a love and respect for food and wanted to show what she could do with it.
These were very different competitors. The first chef was used to winning. He had made a lifestyle out of winning. He was used to beating anyone out for the prize. He was very talented and had great skill at cooking. He showed off his technique but one thing was missing from his dishes. He failed to show the judges who he was. They wanted to see his heart, not just his ability. They knew he was more than capable. They wanted to see his passion. Unfortunately for him, his passion was for winning. He was using his talents to outdo those around him. He didn’t necessarily love what he was doing so much as he found something he was good at and was using it to collect awards. His passion was not for the food, it was for winning. He spent his short life winning for the sake of winning.
The second chef loved cooking. She enjoyed food and said she had a passion for it. She wanted to win the competition to further her dream of owning her own restaurant. Then she could cook the food she wanted. She loved what she did and wanted to share her talent with anyone who would taste her food. She was not interested in the status or the trophy; she was interested in winning over hearts. She wanted to present her creations, not just win a competition.
These were two chefs seeking the same goal but for different reasons. They were both very talented. They were both very capable, even gifted. The difference was their hearts. The first chef was in it to win for his ego’s sake. He didn’t have a love for food. He was just good at preparing it. He had perfected his technique and used it to gain more prestige and position. The second chef did what she did for the love of food. She was creative and enjoyed what she did. It wasn’t just a job to her. It wasn’t just a technique. It was her passion.
In our scripture for today, a man brought his demon-possessed son to the disciples for healing. They tried to heal him but could not. And so, Jesus, having a heart of compassion, healed the boy. Where the disciples had failed, Jesus succeeded. Later the disciples, in private of course, asked Jesus why they couldn’t perform the same miracle. Here they had this cool new talent, but it didn’t work. They had obviously been able to do miracles in Jesus name in the past. But this time they didn’t succeed. I wonder if they had forgotten where their power had come from. I wonder if their hearts had become proud and so the miracles seized. I wonder if they stopped looking upon the sick with compassion and started looking upon the people as opportunities to show off. Jesus response to them was this…“Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move and nothing shall be impossible to you.” (Matt. 17:20) They lacked the very thing they needed to succeed…faith. They had lost their hearts to success. They had failed to remember why they were called. Their passion had become just a performance.
Just like the chef with the passion to share her creations. We need to have a passion to show others our Creator. We should use our gifts and talents to draw others to the One who loves us. He gives us all we need to succeed. But He doesn’t want us to succeed for our own sakes. He wants us to remember where our true talent comes from. He wants us to rely on His power. Then He can work through us. Then His will can be done. Then the world will see where our true passion lies.