Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Monday, November 16, 2015

7 Deadly Sins: Gluttony

Only two sins remain in this exploration of the 7 Deadly Sins.  So far we've explored: PrideEnvyAngerSloth, and Greed.  This time around let's look at Gluttony.

The dictionary defines Gluttony as "habitual greed or excess in eating."  It is a limitless appetite for food or drink or in a more metaphorical sense any pleasure.  Think about all we are gluttonous for: we binge eat, binge drink, we even binge watch shows.  Gluttony is a sin that take a good God designed thing, our appetite, and runs away with it until it kills us.

Gluttony in the United States is quite literally killing people.  High blood pressure, coronary heart disease, strokes, some cancers, the diabetes epidemic and more are caused in part by our gluttonous lifestyle.  We've heard of people that are told to make dietary changes for medical reasons but won't because of their love of food or drink.  So many of us are eating ourselves to death and we wonder why Gluttony is on a list of the 7 Deadly Sins.

Gluttony can take away our energy and joy.  There are so many people that live a life of trouble due to the sin of Gluttony.  Now, before you complain and say I'm over simplifying the case, I know there are other reasons for the diseases mentioned but Gluttony is a factor is so many cases.

Often Gluttony indulges itself and ignores those who are suffering.  Jesus tells a story about this in Luke 16 when he tells the story about the rich man and the beggar.  You remember poor man Lazarus?  Many a monarchy or ruling class has been done in by Gluttony.  History is wrought with stories of those in power throwing lavish feasts while the rest of society starved; that is until the rest of society overthrew the partying class.  This is even parodied in The Hunger Games books and movies which seem to be a futuristic telling of late Roman history.

Gluttony is also a danger to our spiritual lives.  Adam and Eve were taken down by a fruit.  And look at what Paul tells the church at Philippi.

"... many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is their shame.  Their mind is on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven."  Philippians 3:18b-20a

Gluttony says that our stomach is our god.  Gluttony sets our mind on earthy pleasures and misses the better, purer heavenly pleasures.  As Jonathan Bowers says, "gluttony is food worship".

So, what do we do about Gluttony?

First, we must know that there is a time for everything including feasting.  Soon when you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner don't beat yourself up for feasting.  Gluttony isn't about occasional feasts, God Himself commanded a number of feasts for the nation of Israel. No, gluttony not about feasting it is about who/what our God is.

Secondly, enjoy food.  Those who binge do not really enjoy food or drink.  They fill their stomachs but miss the goodness.  They get full, but nothing more; they get drunk, but nothing more; they put it in the body to have it leave the body later and miss much of the blessing of good food.  Slow down when you eat or drink; don't look like a starved dog at the table, instead sit down and enjoy the food and company.

Thirdly, be active.  Those who are bitten by the sin of Sloth are often taken by Gluttony, too.  The lazy man sits on the couch and mindlessly eats chips because he simply has nothing better to do.  The active person takes in the calories from food and puts them to good use whereas the lazy man hoards the energy from food and benefits no one.

Fourthly, fast.  There's no better way to prove to yourself that food doesn't rule your life than by fasting.  Can God be your focus when fasting and when feasting?  We can't truly know until we try a fast from food.  When the competing god of the stomach is knocked out of the picture you'll be surprised at how loud and clear the voice of the true God is.

Finally, feast on the Word of God.  Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."  Psalm 34:8 says, "Taste and see that the LORD is good..."  When we feast on the Word of God, when we taste and see and experience His goodness we will not have our stomach as our god.

Bottom line: Gluttony is a sin with many physical, social and spiritual consequences.  Don't be ruled by Gluttony today.

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