This is a rarely examined topic, perhaps because we — in the West — are guilty, and eating is such a part of our lifestyle that we don’t see over indulgence for what it really is…
Recently, I was convicted by the LORD. Oh, I am not hugely overweight or ill; I exercise and eat a lot of fresh fruit and veggies. But I eat more than I need, and I snack. That is common. But is it righteous?
How I was convicted
When my husband Alan was seriously ill in hospital this past winter, I did a lot of praying, often late into the night. I didn’t feel much like preparing meals, let alone eating them. And so, I began to lose weight, weight which I’d been aiming to lose for nearly 10 years.
Alan passed away on 10th March this year. I didn’t feel much like eating after that either.
Then I began to realise I had been in the habit of eating far more food, far more often, than I actually needed.
Determined to make something positive from that horrible 3 months, I decided I didn’t want to regain the weight I’d lost. And I haven’t. How did I do that? By accepting that I eat far more than I require, and I eat more frequently than I need as well.
In the course of changing my eating habits, I realised how poor they’d been. I realised I’d been reliant on food, with eating as an activity and taste being a higher priority than necessity.
Gluttony is defined as unhealthy indulgence, habitual greed or excess in eating or drinking. It isn’t attractive (nor is the consequence of it). But according to the definitions, it is far more common amongst us than we might like to think.
I’ve attempted to execute more self control when it comes to eating.
Gluttony a sin?
The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and so of course we will consider anything we do in light of this.
Although gluttony is one of the “seven deadly sins”, that concept is not specific to the Bible; yet, we do recognise that we are responsible for our attitudes and actions. Excess of any kind could be considered a form of idolatry, and certainly it shows a lack of self control. But all this is a bit legalistic, isn’t it, when we look at behaviour rather than the heart.
Why do we over-eat? To comfort ourselves? And yet, the Holy Spirit is our comforter (John 14:15-17; Acts 9:31). If we eat to comfort, are we pushing the Spirit of GOD away?
Why do we over-eat? To celebrate? Doesn’t Jesus endorse celebration; witness the marriage at Cana, where he turned water into wine (John 2:1-6). Doesn’t the Father, as he created the Feast days (2 Chronicles 8:13)!
And yet, when we look into our hearts, do we need to over-indulge, and if so, why?
I am not endorsing gluttony. I am not, on the other hand, declaring celebration to be ungodly. I am encouraging myself to take responsibility and control over when, what and how much I eat. Just because I can eat whatever I like, and have the relative means to do so, does not mean it is wise or healthy or even godly.
What did Jesus say in Matthew, “For John came neither eating or drinking, and they say, ‘he has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘look a glutton and a winebibber…” but as Paul says in Romans 14:17, “for the kingdom of GOD is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Whatever we do, let our minds be sharp and our hearts pure, allowing the word of GOD to dwell in us, and allowing our convictions to renew our minds with our actions to follow.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)