For a young child during the immediate years after World War II, the treats and gifts were infrequent and few.  For this reason, I really valued the few I received.  One of my infrequent treats came from the center of our local town--a soft-serve malted milk flavor ice cream cone.

I will never forget the afternoon when Mom gave me the coins for a cone, and I went to the ice cream stand only to find that a new franchise had taken over the business.  Their product was an inferior vanilla soft serve.  I was displeased and far from polite.  I practically told them to get out of business and was further shocked when a month or so later, they did.  My thoughtless rudeness resulted in a strong guilt and regret.

Any of us can get ourselves into regrettable situations due to picky personal preferences or strong tastes.  The Bible has story after story of characters who wreaked havoc or caused themselves genuine disaster or loss because of decided and unruly personal preferences.

Esau, tired from hunting, sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup.  His hunger overtook his good sense.  Later, this same Esau, trying to please his father's strong preferences for a certain meat dish was slow in hunting and preparing the meat.  His wily brother Jacob, urged on by his mother, disguised himself and took a more quickly prepared but tasty meat dish to Isaac and obtained Esau's blessing for himself.

Perhaps Isaac should have just given Esau the blessing without the prior requirement of tasty meat.  Again, a strong preference plays a certain role in the outcome.

Strong desires can certainly lead to trouble.  From Eve to King David, and beyond, we see examples of desires that lead to sin.  Placing thoughtful love between ourselves and a too desired personal preference can save us from sin, sorrow, guilt, and regret.  And during the upcoming holiday seasons, such selfless love can go a long way to preserving the peace and joy of the season.

We may not get every preference we desire: foods may not be our favorite, scheduled times may not be convenient, guests and visitors may not be of our first choice, and events may not turn out as planned.  Young people may not get their desired date for an evening, and Christmas gifts may be disappointing.

Nonetheless, with thought to loving kindness and Christian fellowship, we can make choices that will please the Lord Jesus, in His season, before, and beyond.  The sweetness of unselfish love can flavor for savor even a sacrificial choice, and we may discover another Christian preference to put in the place of the tired and selfish picky preference we no longer so desire.


Mary-Ellen Grisham is the editor of Eternal Ink, a bimonthly Christian ezine. She can be reached at