America is one of the most obese nations in the world. We love our food. We love the stuff that’s bad for us. We have so many different options in this country for where to go out to eat, or kind of food to have.
It’s no surprise that with the abundance of our nation’s food supply that many Americans find themselves overweight. After all, every major holiday, and just about every time we get together, eating is part of the deal.
We’ve been talking about holiness, and God has high standards even in how we eat. He expects us to maintain a healthy body. Holiness concerns how we use God’s resources, including the Spirit’s Temple, our bodies.
So even though many people don’t think food is an addiction, we’re going to look at how it affects us in our walk with God. The Bible mentions gluttony and debauchery, both overuses of food and resources.
Not That Bad, Right?
Especially in America where we have so much and have been so blessed by God, many people don’t even believe that eating too much is an addiction, let alone a sin. After all, we have a lot of food. What’s wrong with eating it?
If we don’t eat the food, it will go to waste. So by eating all of this food, aren’t we being good stewards of God’s blessing? Sounds good on the surface, but it’s not good if it violates scriptural principles and commands.
For the most part, most people in the ancient world did not have access to a lot of food like we do today. Many of them were poor and had only enough for that day. But there were some who had more than enough, and the principles we discuss have to do with way more than food.
This is one of those addictions that, since we don’t often think about it, it doesn’t hit us even when we are violating scriptural commands. We have different reasons for our uncontrollable eating habits.
Some people grow up poor, and when they come into more resources they take full advantage of them. They bulk up because they think they now have an unending resource. Perhaps they think they must eat before it isn’t available anymore.
Whatever the case, we have made it a systemic behavior in America. Believe it or not, there are people who are starving to death within our country’s borders. You may be surprised to hear it, but not everybody is so rich and prosperous.
Yummy, Yummy in My Tummy
Gluttony and debauchery are not the only problems we have with food. For a whole different reason, some people have a problem with bulimia. Bulimia is attached to emotions, self-image, and self-worth.
Jesus wants to free us from both of these problems. People who are bulimic binge eat and then feel guilty about themselves. They induce vomiting to get rid of the excess food. This is an unhealthy process based in self-worth.
People who are uncomfortable with the way they look, thinking they are overweight, tend to follow this practice. Many times, these people are underweight and malnourished. What they think about themselves, or think other people think about them, is destroying their health.
Just as much as I have talked about everything from tattoos to what we do with our bodies for holiness, gluttony and bulimia, these two extremes, factor into holiness. The Holy Spirit dwells in our bodies, and they are his temples.
When you read the Old Testament law, you see how much God cared about the tabernacle and temple. He had exact measurements for things and cared about how they were treated by the Levites and priests. No one else was allowed to mess with them.
So if he calls our bodies his temples, then he cares about how we treat them. He cares if we eat too much or too little. He cares if we think we should be starving ourselves because we are overweight when we aren’t. And he cares when we abuse these amazing bodies that house our souls and spirits.
The Bible is clear that God’s image of a smattering more than our own self-image. The only person we should be listening to about our self-image is God. He’s the only one who matters. This world with its commercials will tell you you’re too skinny, too fat, your teeth are messed up, and a host of other voices. But God made you who you are, and he decides if your body and what you do please him.
The Bible speaks of gluttony and drunkenness in the same breath (Proverbs 23:20-21; Deuteronomy 21:20). This makes sense because both are excesses. Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.
Stuffed to the Gills
Having a desire for more and more food, the indulgence of trying to eat more and more is dangerous to our soul as well as our body. Those who eat too much put food ahead of everything else in their lives.
Food exposes our desires. If we grew up poor without many resources, we show off that we will never be without food. Or if we didn’t have enough when we were poor, we show our lack of trust in God to continue providing for us when we indulge in food.
There is at least one reference by Paul to the idea that wanting food so badly and indulge in so much in the leads to idolatry. When he talks about pagans, he says that, “Their god is their stomach” (Philippians 3:19).
We must not put anything before the Lord. It’s because of food that Esau was willing to give up his birthright. We must have our priorities in the right place. Eating too much food becomes a distraction. We can’t focus on what God wants for us, and the things of God.
Stuffing ourselves for food leaves little room for focus on the things God has for us. I think the most dangerous part about gluttony and bulimia is that they expose are distressed in God’s provision. We would never admit it mentally, but in our heart we may look elsewhere beside God’s provision.
In the wilderness, the Israelites first complained that Moses and God let them into the wilderness to die there because they had no food or drink. Then when God provided food and drink, they questioned whether he was in their midst.
We may not ever say it, may not even think it, but our actions betray our heart. When we hoard food or eat it simply because we have more than enough of it, we say with our actions that we trust in our own resources and abilities to have more than enough.
Although each of these leads to a different conclusion, they both speak of our true heart. I’m not just calling us out because we eat more than we should. I’m calling us out because we are putting food, our resources, and provision above God.
Contentment and Balance
Idolatry can become a danger to our spiritual disposition. But there are other dangers of gluttony. God calls us to a balanced life, that no addiction has its hold on us. We can only serve one master (Luke 16:13). And that master must be Jesus.
The medium may change, drinking or eating or something else, but the point the Bible makes is that gluttony is an excess of a good thing. Food is not bad. It nourishes us and tastes good. But when we indulge ourselves we fall prey to our own desires.
Our desires must not control us either. Despite our circumstances, we must always look to God for our provision. Whether we binge eat because of our emotional state or stress just because we love food, God can help us with all of these needs. We don’t need to rely on food.
The Bible teaches us to be content in every situation (Philippians 4:10-13). If God blesses us with more than enough, we should not abuse it. If we are in want, poor without food, God provides. Learning to be content is a teachable skill, not a spiritual gift.
God gives us the ability, especially when we face different situations at different times in our lives, to be content in his provision. The balanced life keeps us from the addictions that tempt us to sin against God.
God considers our ability to handle food, alcohol, and any other addictive substance matter of holiness. We must be different from the world. The world looks to these things to fill the God shaped hole in their hearts. We look to Jesus to provide our needs.
Gluttony and bulimia, and every other form of debauchery, fall under the banner of holiness. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in our bodies, which are his temple, we must look to him instead of these addictive practices.
Jesus wants to set us free from anything that masters us. He wants to see us victorious overcomers living for him. Let no unguarded spots in your life for temptation to find. Any addiction can be conquered by Jesus. Leave a comment and give helpful counsel on how you conquer addictions like gluttony.