If you are still with me, let me hasten to say that I love to eat. Food was always a big deal in our house growing up, my Mississippi grandmother could throw down the best Sunday afternoon dinner your palate has ever experienced. Mom’s chicken and dumplings were standard birthday fare for all our kids.
I get it. Food is often central to fellowship and holidays and celebrations. I’m not a stick thin, 115 lb consumer of rabbit food. Taste, variety and creative, new recipes are all blessings from God to be enjoyed with thanksgiving. But the same Paul who taught that also said, don’t be mastered by anything. The fruit of the Spirit is … self-control.
It’s a daily battle, no doubt. If lust is every man’s battle, then some form of gluttony is every human’s battle. And trust me, thin people can be gluttonous. I’ve been there. It’s time we call it the sin that it is. If we only hungered for righteousness like we hunger for food. If we only ate God’s Word like we eat.
Gluttony is often the Christianized version of drunkenness. In some circles, all consumption of alcoholic beverages is seen as a sin, but those same brethren wouldn’t think twice of three heaping plates at the potluck lunch. Is that hypocrisy I smell coming from my own kitchen?
Let’s face it, Americans and American Christians, have an over eating problem. We are killing ourselves with food. We can talk about exercise all day. I’m all for it. Exercise for sedentary people is essential. But it takes me a good hour to burn 600 calories and 30 seconds to undo it. We can talk about nutrition all day. Education is power. We are what we eat. But our greatest problem is simply quantity. We are over indulgers by nature.
If drunkenness is the overindulgence of alcohol, gluttony is the twin brother in relation to food, and I suspect, Americans lead the world. Both sins are rooted in a lack of self-control and a living for something other than God, or escaping to something instead of God.
For believers, self-control comes not by will power but by the indwelling Holy Spirit. He enables us to restrain appetite and control impulses and live for God, not our stomachs.
Sometimes we just have to leave the table, leave the kitchen, even leave the house. If I’m home and bored, I will often eat. I can get up from the supper table looking for food. Wretched man that I am!
Food is not only big business (in America more is spent in restaurants than grocery stores), it has become a form of entertainment in our country, like everything else we do. We have entire networks and hundreds of shows devoted to food. We have food personalities, cupcake wars and restaurant makeovers to entertain us. It seems more and more our lives are revolving around food. All of this plays into the hands of gluttony.
I’ve been noticing restaurant commercials lately. If you were dropped in from another planet or era, you’d say we worship food. The commercials, with the descriptions, the close up camera shots of juicy steaks or succulent lobster, with butter melting, the pancakes with syrup flowing, the tone and vocabulary of the narrator – it all sounds like a love affair with something soon to be in the sewer.
How can we love something so much that can’t love us back and even kills us in excess?
Whatever happened to food as fuel, daily sustenance and energy to work and serve God? Whatever happened to eating to live instead of living to eat? We have made an idol out of yet another good gift of God, loving the gift more than the Giver, the pleasure and comfort of foodover the pleasures and comfort of God and His Word. A good servant has become a terrible master.
It’s no coincidence that the serpent used food to tempt both our parents in the garden and our Savior in the wilderness. Mankind was plunged into ruin because something looked good to the eyes and palate. Adam and Eve failed but the last Adam succeeded, knowing that “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Christians are called to be morally awake and self-controlled. We are called to bridle our passions and restrain our lusts, regardless of the form they take. We are in a serious war against the enemy of our soul and he will use everything at his disposal to make us lethargic, sluggish, sleepy warriors. The hungry, roaring lion is prowling about looking for over-indulging sheep to swallow whole.
I’ve been convicted recently that I eat too much, too often, too fast and with too little appreciation. I’ve been convicted lately that when I’m down or bored, I often turn to food. I’ve been convicted lately that my mind must stay alert and too much of the wrong foods hinders that big time. The carb-induced coma is a constant threat.
May God help us all in these days of abundance to eat to live and not live to eat.
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight