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Leaven: the Puffed-Up Principle

by UNC Contributor
Photo by Tommaso Urli on Unsplash
 

Have you ever watched bread dough after it is set in a warm place rise, or watched with anticipation through the glass of the oven door to see cookies puff up in the warmth of the oven? The action that causes our baked goods to become “puffed up” is the result of a biological agent (yeast) or a chemical agent (sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, baking powder and baking soda) spreading throughout the dough or batter in the warm environment.

Yeast uses the sugar in the dough as food, slowly multiplying and spreading, giving off carbon dioxide in the process, resulting in rising dough. The other agents, used in cookies, cakes, prepared cereals, some commercial pie crusts and especially graham and cracker crusts, cause chemical reactions to the liquids in the recipes to quickly puff up the batter. Even though these items appear flat when cooled, they actually rise in the heat of the oven.

Angel food cake, popovers, and sponge cake are fluffy and light, but do not contain a leavening agent, and Brewer’s yeast, yeast extract (a flavouring) and cream of tartar (a dry acid) are not leavening agents. However, always read the ingredient list when purchasing items.

During the weeks leading up to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we begin to remove leavened items from our home. At this time we apply the analogy of leavening representing sin as a reminder to remove sin from, or deleaven, our lives. Just as the leaven of yeast takes time to spread throughout the dough, sin slowly creeps into our lives, spreading from our minds into our hearts. The Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us that we are to be continually removing sin from our lives.

Being “puffed up” has always been an obstacle for God’s people. Paul confronted the Corinthians on several types of leaven—division, jealousy, arrogance, tolerance of sexual misconduct (I Corinthians 2:10-11; 3:3; 4:6-7, 18; 5:1-2). He reminded them (and us) that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (I Corinthians 5:6 and Galatians 5:9). Just as a tiny bit of yeast engulfs all the dough, sin can spread through many.

The disciples were warned by Jesus to “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). Jesus also told them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. . . Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6-12).

How do we ‘deleaven’ our lives, and remove the attitudes and ideas that can lead us to sin? By throwing them out, just as we throw out the physically leavened items; or as Paul said, “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump” so we can “keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Corinthians 5: 7-8). How do we purge them out? We study God’s Word, think about our attitudes and conduct, and ask God in prayer to help us recognize and overcome our wrong.

Each time we accomplish this, we remember Paul’s admonition: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

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