“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
As we look forward to a new year I want to look at an old sin.
There’s a sin the church which no one addresses because people don’t think it’s really all that bad.
We have the attitude that if a sin isn’t big like lying, sexual immorality, taking someone’s life, or even gossiping then God doesn’t really have a problem with it. So this sin is rarely addressed from the pulpit, and no one brings it up when they are considering church discipline. Yet it’s still sin. Not something to judge anyone over if you don’t struggle with it, but something definitely important to call it for what it is. This way the children of God who are affected by it can begin to repent of it.
The sin is gluttony.
It affects people in the church of all ages, races, and sizes. Both those who show it by obesity as well as those who are thin because they have speedy metabolisms.
It’s not merely an issue of external looks, but internal dependance. Meaning, who are you choosing to worship. Are you choosing to worship God? Or are you choosing to worship something that He created? (Romans 1:25)
Eating to God’s Glory
After Jesus successfully dodged the Pharisees and Sadducees attempts to trip Him up, one of them asked what was the greatest commandment. Jesus answered simply, that people are to love God with everything they are and have as well as to love those around them like themselves. (Mark 12:28)
Gluttony attacks both those areas. For when you’re a glutton you’re loving something more than you’re loving God. When you practice gluttony, you’re setting yourself up for health related issues that will affect those close to you in your life or will limit your ability to serve others in the church as well as in the world without hindrances.
(Not to mention, that if you do show the effects of it due to excess long-term weight retention, you may be a poor testimony of the Lord. The world is more than ready to judge God’s children and come to a conclusion as to whether or not He’s real by how we do or do not follow Him– but a little more on looks later)
So by viewing our overindulgence in food through the lens of the two greatest commandments we learn two things. We discover that gluttony is an issue of what we choose to worship and that what we choose to worship will affect others around us. Remember this, worship of anything other than God is idolatry.
Bearing this in mind, we begin to understand that that extra piece of grandma Dottie’s banana cream pie when you’re already satisfied isn’t just a good natured second, it’s idolatry.
Get out, really? How so?
I know many of you reading this may be thinking that I’m being all man-made seven deadly sinnish about this. You’re probably thinking, where does the bible say anything specifically about gluttony being sinful? While there are several places that shows God is doesn’t approve of gluttony ( Deut 21:20, Prov 23:20-21, and Prov 28:7, Titus 1:12) we need to take a moment to look at what the word gluttony means as defined by the bible. The old testament Hebrew word for glutton/gluttony in the bible as in Prov 23:20-21 is the word zâlal which means “to be worthless, be vile, be insignificant, to make light of, squander, be lavish with.”
While the new testament Greek definition for a person who is a glutton which is gastḗr (as used in Titus 1:12) is defined as “a man who is as it were all stomach”
When we look at the definition of gluttony, then we see that the person who is a glutton is someone who has surrendered themselves to their appetite rather than to God’s control over every aspect of their being. Yet many people indulge in being overindulgent and no one feels bad about it. The truth is that we should be as heart broken over this sin as any other.
We need to start acknowledging it if it’s ever going to change.
Paul says through tears in the book of Philippians 3:18, that those who’s god is their appetite is an enemy of the cross (and yes the Greek word for appetite there is koilía, dealing with the belly, and the palate)
So denying the whole double portions during the church pot luck as sinful in God’s eyes is just the same as the Prov 30:20 adulterous woman who wipes her mouth and says “I have done nothing wrong.”
So why does being gluttonous get a pass?
A couple reasons I think. The main one being that if it doesn’t affect the way that you look, it’s not such a bad thing. Or if you can diet away the effects of it after Christmas then why consider thinking of it as a wrong thing while you’re doing it at thanksgiving?
Yet we don’t think that way about drugs or illicit sex. We know that when we are gossiping about our neighbor that we are doing wrong. But no so much with being gluttonous.
Gluttony is just a way of life. Or more specifically it’s a way to face our lives. It’s viewing all the events that come our way through the prism of the earthly here and now instead of with the eternal perspective of Jesus’s command for us to be asking God that His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Gluttony—eating more than we need or not in response to hunger— is as sinful as all the sins we see as major no-nos.
Gluttony goes beyond overeating for the holidays when we run the gauntlet of treats that are thrown at us like sweet and savory hand grenades. Gluttony also goes beyond eating mindlessly after we have had more than enough. In our daily lives, gluttony also is when we use it as a way to reward ourselves when we have done something well. This is instead of being thankful and giving praise to God who has given us the ability to do something or who Himself has provided the favorable result. Gluttony is also a way to comfort ourselves when we’re down or to take control in a situation when we can’t find any other way to control the situation. When we do this we deny that God is sovereign and in control of every event that comes into our lives, and has a purpose in those events to conform us to the likeness of Christ if we sit in the pain instead of running from it to food. Also, let us not overlook that those of us who show food as love can encourage one another to gluttony when we heap other’s plates with food we’ve artfully prepared, insisting, “Oh come on, this one little thing isn’t going to kill you.”
I’m not talking about restricting calories. Nor am I talking about banning foods that God created. I’m simply stating that if you’re finding yourself eating for any of those reasons other than satisfying hunger, you are flying in the face of truly worshiping God and God alone.
So it’s not an issue of body shaming, but sin acknowledging.
If we do show consequences from gluttony we are more likely to confront people for their size, counseling them that they need to go on a diet. That doesn’t deal with the problem (and not everyone who is portly is that size because they are gluttonous).
So looks need to be taken out of the equation. Large people and small can be gluttons. And this kind of sin affects everyone in the church, from the pastor to the person in the pew.
So consider this as you start out on your new years resolutions to lose those pounds. When the Scribe heard Jesus answer in Mark he replied, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him; and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”(emphasis mine) God is looking for obedience. He’s looking for people who will worship Him with all that they have. In the case of gluttony He values a heart given to Him in eating above the sacrifices of making up for it by dieting.
So even though I know this truth, I still wrestle with the obedience to it. For example, in just a few hours I will be headed to my parents house for chitterlings where I will wrestle to submit my will to God’s will for my appetite.
Believe me, I understand what a challenge obedience in eating is. It’s a daily ongoing battle. One I don’t always win. But we who are God’s children are highly blessed for the constant opportunity to fight. Because those of us who struggle with making food our God can find fresh grace from the real God who saved us every time we battle to eat the appropriate amount.
Every time you pick up the fork or open a crinkly bag you need to make the same choices: self-control to the Lords will, gratitude for what He’s given, acceptance for where He has you. Every time you face that fight in your eating, you can pray and ask for God’s grace to wage war well.
I’m not going to lie. At times it will be harder than others.
Until the day that I weep like the apostle Paul in Philippians or like my friend Carol, who tearfully prayed for me eight years ago when I was 312 pounds, I need to agree with God and obey Him regardless of how I feel about it.
We all need to remember Paul’s admonition to work out our salvation with fear and trembling for God is at work within us both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
So, even though we don’t *feel* like gluttony is all that bad, we need to agree with God when He says that it is. We need to agree with Him and forsake it in favor of His perfect will for our lives.
If you would like to know more about this topic and how to begin to tackle it, pick up a copy of my book “the Food Ain’t the Problem” It’s available on Amazon or also at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Northcreek Church in Walnut Creek California And NOW in Community Bible Church of Vallejo. If you don’t see it on the shelves ask them to order it for you, it’s probably out. You can also ask your church bookstore to order it for you though Spring Arbor book distributor 🙂
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