It is safe to say that everyone enjoys food. We know it to be true that food is precious, and a good gift. Living in New Orleans, we experience food at its greatest potential. Nothing can exceed what our taste buds experience as we enjoy delicious New Orleans seafood and cuisine. Yet what we do not always realize is how often our pleasure of food reigns in our thoughts, actions and even our hearts. This leads us to the deadly sin of gluttony, the act of excessive eating.
Before we go further, a foundation must be laid.
Food Is a Gift
From the beginning of time in Genesis 1:29-30, we see that God created food for a good and necessary purpose towards mankind.
“And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”
In John 6:11-12, we see Jesus exceed the need of the 5,000 who were hungry by distributing the loaves wisely with nothing to spare.
“Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.’”
Seeing from Scripture that food is a good gift from God, what are some causes of gluttony? Here are two causes:
- Wrong use of food: “If I regularly find myself eating hastily, without due regard for God’s good gift of food—that is, if I’m treating food merely as fuel—then my hastiness may be a sign that my attitude and approach toward food is drifting into idolatry.”1
- Wrong enjoyment of food: “If I often eat sumptuously, or eat too much, or eat greedily, I should carefully check myself to see if I am seeking to find more gratification in food than I ought. It’s all about the balance.”2
Both of these represent an extreme on both ends, either giving food too much attention in our lives, or not giving it enough attention for what God intended it to be used for. Christians must find a healthy balance between the two.
Two Ways to Avoid Gluttony
The Discipline of Fasting
When we fast, our attention is taken off of our hunger, and placed on what God wants for us, being completely dependent on Him. This discipline aligns our priorities back with the Lord (See Matthew 6:16-18).
The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Taking the Lord’s Supper reminds us of the big picture. Our bodily appetites are temporary and the bread of life is eternal through Jesus Christ. Much like fasting, this sacrament sets our minds and hearts solely on God and away from our physical needs (See 1 Corinthians 11:26).
In conclusion, we are intended to enjoy and treasure food. God not only created food because it is a necessity for our bodies, but also because He wanted us to enjoy the blessings of taste and physical fulfillment through food. We must never loose sight of the purpose for food in comparison to eternity and our Christian perspective. Food is a blessing but not a means to the end. Anyone is capable of stepping into gluttony and we must always be above reproach and intentional in our eating habits and food choices.
Written for Vintage Church.