Don't Give Food Too Much Attention And Miss Out On Making God Your Obsession

By: Tia Johnson 0 Comments   12/4/2011

Recent numbers on obesity state that one-third of Americans are considered obese.  The number of those who've fallen for the sin of gluttony: nearly everyone.

Considering this, one would suspect that this sin would be addressed at the pulpit.

However, rarely have I heard it even mentioned in front of groups of people. I don't blame our pastors, for how could one summon the eyes that are bound to dart across the sanctuary, seeking out those "gluttonous sinners" by one's body size- a trait that is falsely associated with gluttony?

Truly, a larger body does not signify a gluttonous heart. Some have physical ailments attributing to their weight gain, and thin people are just as guilty regarding this sin. I am one of them.

A glutton is excessive. Gluttony is divulging in too much of a good thing. I'm culturally labeled as "tall and thin," yet how often have I grabbed an extra dessert because I told myself, "though I don't need it... I can have it." I know it's sin when I'm tempted to duck around a corner for a few extra bites. I often tell myself, "this is a special treat" or "I know it's not good for me, but divulging (a.k.a. gluttony) is okay once in a while."

Food is not our enemy- just as money is not our enemy. But like money, the overwhelming love of food can set us off-kilter.

The Bible provides lots of references regarding food. God made food and it serves as a blessing, but like all things which God made, food can also be perverted.

For example, God sent food from the heavens for the Israelites while they roamed in the dessert. The manna and quail provided nourishment and a lasting testimony of God's provision and glory. God also sent food to Elijah through an angel. The angel had said, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you." That food gave him strength for 40 days! In each of these cases, food was provided for nourishment. In Elijah's case, it was likely a comfort as he was fleeing for his life at that time and wanted to die.

Food is required for strength. Jesus multiplied it to feed the weary crowd of 5,000 plus followers.  After Jesus had raised a girl from the dead, he immediately told her parents to get her something to eat.  Even Jesus was noted to satisfy the pang of hunger when he searched out a tree with figs. And He really stood out when He defended the disciples' act to pluck grain on the Sabbath to fill their hungry appetites.

Food was also part of socializing. Jesus ate while he socialized with the tax collectors . He also prepared a fish dinner for the disciples after he rose from the dead (now I would have loved to have tasted that!). 

God created our bodies to operate with fuel from food. He also gave us the ability to taste, and that gift can be used to experience the many wonderful good foods He has made, and to give Him glory for it. But like all gifts, it can lead us to sin.

For example, Esau fell when he, out of famished hunger, traded his birthright for the soup his brother had prepared. Adam and Eve fell when they took a bite from the forbidden fruit which the serpent used to challenge God's command. (It's interesting that the serpent used food to entice God's first man and woman.)

Four thousand years later, satan used food to entice Jesus Christ after He had not eaten for 40 days. He had more hunger than I've ever experienced, yet Jesus responded by saying, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God."

Jesus' response sheds light on the danger of gluttony. Has food become an idol and overruled what we know to be true? If I know that I should not have a second helping of pie, and I do anyway, has food become my master? Paul poignantly states in Philippians 3:18-19 that the state of a glutton is an enmity with Jesus "whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame-- who set their mind on earthly things."

That certainly sounds an alarm. Falling into gluttony is evidence that my mind is set on earthly things and I am therefore an enemy of God!

Other sins seem to be associated as well. Often greed piggy-backs on gluttony and robs us of generosity. I find myself falling into it not just with food, but at garage sales. "I don't need it... but it's such a good deal!" Or free toothbrushes-- why not take a dozen?

As with all sin, the after-shocks are most despairing. After divulging in too many calories, the bummer reality that now I have to work this off sets in. After unloading the garage-sale finds, I go to bed newly aware that I don't have room for all this stuff in my house, and now I've just made more work for myself. The free toothbrushes end up getting "safely shoved" where I can't find them again, wasting what I could have left for someone else to use.

I should have learned from the Israelites, who suffered because they yielded to their craving for meat and stayed up all night hoarding it for themselves. As Proverbs 25:16 says, "Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit." and Proverbs 23:21: "For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty."

The sin of gluttony is grotesque- whether inside a thin or large body. Generosity and self-control seem to be its opposing traits. The next time gluttony strikes, I pray I can practice those instead and honor God properly with the good food He created.

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

For a resource on learning the proper perception of food and hunger and how to manage both, see the Weigh-Down Workshop.

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