Chef Blair Rasmussen and colleagues, Vancouver, 2009
Photo by VancouverConvention on Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Can you have too much of a good thing?

When it comes to chocolate, I would say an unequivocal no.

What about when it comes to having assistance in the kitchen? Surely you can’t go wrong having an abundance of help when you’re cooking?

You would think not, wouldn’t you?

But there’s a limit to how many “sous-chefs” you should have.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “too many cooks spoil the broth.” This idiom can be literally true. One person might decide the soup needs more salt, so liberally adds more. The next helper might think the soup is too salty, so dilutes it to compensate.

Some might figure the soup needs more onion; others think it’s too spicy. Each tries to correct the perceived mistakes of the others until you end up with an inedible mess.

Sometimes we need to be judicious about who we listen to.

There are some key examples in Scripture which teach us that too many “cooks” or advisors can confuse and divide us.

When the children of Israel were freed from bondage in Egypt, Moses led them to the threshold of the Promised Land. He sent out twelve spies to scout out the land and report back on what they’d found.

The scouts discovered that the land was indeed as bountiful as God had promised. However, ten of them came back with a bad report and suggested that it would be too hard for them to take the land. Their negative attitude tainted the whole assembly and they gave up on the notion of entering the Promised Land. The children of Israel remained in the wilderness for another forty years, an entire generation.

It’s perhaps significant that when the children of Israel were next poised to enter the Promised Land under Moses’ successor Joshua, only two spies were sent out. Perhaps Joshua had learned the lesson that you have to be careful who you involve in decisions.

A similar thing happened with Jesus. He was asked to come to the house of the synagogue leader, Jairus, to heal the man’s daughter, who was near death. While still en route, however, Jairus learned that the little girl had died; there was no point bothering Jesus anymore.

But Jesus, overhearing this, told Jairus not to be afraid, but just to believe.

Upon arriving at the man’s house, Jesus did something unusual.

“When they arrived at the house of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw the commotion and the people weeping and wailing loudly. He went inside and asked, ‘Why all this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead, but asleep.’ And they laughed at Him.

“After He had put them all outside, He took the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and went in to see the child.” (Mark 5:38-40)

Jesus took the girl by the hand and healed her of her illness. Her spirit returned to her and she immediately got up from her supposed death-bed.

But the healing isn’t the unusual thing I’m referring to.

What I’d like to zero in on is the fact that the mockers were kicked out of the house. Jesus “put them all outside,” bringing in only Peter, John, James and the girl’s parents.

The people who laughed at Jesus and were doubtful He could help the girl were banished, left to cool their heels outside.

Jesus knew that sometimes it’s best to leave the naysayers out of the picture.

Are you facing some difficult decisions or challenging circumstances?

It’s essential to have godly advice as input. Indeed, the Book of Proverbs tells us that there is wisdom in many counsellors. But we need God’s wisdom to even choose those counsellors.

Sometimes it’s best to narrow down the list of who you associate with. We may need to weed out the cynical, unfaithful or doubtful voices lest they taint our decisions, and listen to only a select group of trusted believers.

As Jesus and Joshua knew, sometimes too many cooks spoil the broth!

“The words of the godly are like sterling silver.”

Proverbs 10:20

© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “Too Many Cooks

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