The Sin of Gluttony, and a Reminder of What We Really Hunger for
A problem seldom addressed in Western churches is gluttony. Whether you are fat or skinny, God’s Word tells us that gluttony—eating too much—is a sin (Proverbs 23:2, 20, 21; Philippians 3:19).
In this blog, I’ve included an answer from John Piper in which he provides some insight into dealing with this sin in our own lives. As John notes, Scripture often describes our longing for God as a deep hunger or thirst. Hunger and thirst are basic drives in our bodies, and there is also a hunger and thirst of the soul. This fallen world, including food and drink, can never ultimately and fully satisfy our fallen selves. But we keep going back to it, as if it can. We set our sights on the objects of a thousand different desires, none of which give us the lasting pleasure we long for.
Scripture reminds us that Christ is what we really crave, and what alone will satisfy our deepest hunger: “How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house: you give drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Psalm 36:7-9).
Here’s what John has to say:
How can I conquer gluttony?
There are a lot of reasons for obesity in our culture. It's not just that we eat a lot of bad food. We're also pretty inactive and don't do a lot of walking, running, biking, etc. Oftentimes obesity issues are connected as much to activity issues as they are to what goes into our mouths. Muscles are designed to burn food, but if they aren't being used then any amount of food is going to result in obesity.
But "gluttony" is a better word to use in this context rather than "obesity," because overeating is where the problem is, not how much you weigh. There are all kinds of reasons why a person might weigh too much or too little that is not a result of gluttony.
Gluttony is having a craving for food that conquers you.
The text of Scripture that holds out the challenge to me on this issue is 1 Corinthians 6:12 where Paul says—specifically in regard to food and drink—that he will not be enslaved by anything. He is saying, "I have one master, Jesus Christ, and I don't want any other master." Then in 9:27 he talks about pummeling his body: "I pummel my body lest I be disqualified."
I think we need to recover a large appreciation for the biblical disciplines of self-denial and fasting. That is the discipline side of this issue: "I will not be enslaved by anything," "I pommel myself," and "I take up my cross daily." I think we should esteem, extol, and cherish the biblical teaching that the Christian life is one of confronting our cravings and saying no to them.
But easier said than done, right?
So how do you fight the battle? I think it must be fought mainly not with the word "No" but with an alternative "Yes."
photo credit: Paella should be a great Birthday Dinner, isn't it? via photopin (license) cropped