Our Temptation Series continues today with us unpacking how to avoid the trap of Gluttony. If you have missed the previous posts, here’s a quick recap:
- We first introduced the series using Abraham’s Nephew “Lot” as a case study (click here).
- We then studied about alcohol and drugs by focusing on Noah (click here),
- Next was about Lust and exploring the connection between Pornography and Promiscuity (click here).
- Most recently was the pitfall of adultery through the life of King David (click here).
Today’s topic is not one that I see discussed too often but one that I felt led to share because of a brother in my Lifegroup who has shared about the temptation to medicate his problems through food. I would like to start off with this question…When you hear the word “gluttony” or someone who is a “glutton,” what comes to mind? Food, overeating for sure, but how about someone who is obese or grossly overweight? Now I am not being rude or unkind, that is what I thought a glutton was but that is not the case. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as:
“One given habitually to greedy and voracious eating and drinking.”
And Dictionary.com defines it as:
“A person who eats and drinks excessively or voraciously.”
Nothing in those definitions state that someone yielding to gluttony is overweight as I had initially thought. For this Thought we will focus on the excessive indulgence of food. I would dare say that most Americans could fit that description. In our “SUPER-SIZED” Society we are prone to gorging ourselves way past what our bodies require for fuel. In a Barna Research Group study, the #3 top self-reported temptations that Americas owned up to has to do with today’s pitfall! According to survey:
“Fifty-five percent are often or sometimes overwhelmed by the temptation to eat too much.” Source: New Research Explores the Changing Shape of Temptation
55% of Americans are overwhelmed by the temptation to eat too much!! I stumbled across this graphic and found it quite interesting as to one reason that I never considered being a factor. It got my head scratching that I need to reevaluate which plate that I grab out of the cupboard because I know myself; I am not disciplined in portion control and will just fill up every inch with food. Therein lies the problem, Gluttony is a serious failure in self-discipline. Todd Hunter made this great point in his book “Our Favorite Sins”
“Most of the time temptation begins with something good: food, rest, God-approved sex, the need to be loved and accepted.”
The problem is when we allow Satan to take something good and twist it around and pervert it to something evil. That is how I see gluttony now. As I prepared for this post, I started to search the Bible. Surprisingly there is not much on the subject but what I did find was quite severe. The first reference I found was Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (ESV).
“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”
Harsh! Stone the drunkard and glutton to death?? Boy I am glad this is not how they are treated today since I have fallen victim to both snares in my life! Another reference is Proverbs 28:7 (ESV) which says:
“The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.”
And Proverbs 23:20-21 (ESV) warns:
“Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.”
When I read this passage I felt convicted big time because of a recent trip to Texas de Brazil. My project manager took the Architectural Team out for lunch as a thank you for all our hard work. This is a picture of my plate which I am embarrassed to confess was just the beginning of all the meat I devoured.
The more I pondered on this and looked at the definition of a glutton, I realized that I am ensnared by the temptation of consuming way too much, way too often. Our case study today also succumbed to his voracious appetite with disastrous consequences. The man I am referring to is Esau. For those not familiar with this Old Testament character here’s the cliff notes breakdown of this man of great potential whose undoing was a bowl of stew!
Esau was the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, (the patriarch of the Israelites). He was the first-born son and had a twin brother named Jacob. In Genesis 25:27-28 we are given some valuable insight to the man:
“When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents. Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.”
Just like in any family, siblings tend to be complete opposites. I know that is the case for my daughters but one of the most disturbing differences between these twin brothers was the partiality from their parents. If you were to contemporize the difference, Esau was a “man’s man,” who was a tough outdoors-man and Daddy’s favorite! In that time period being the first-born son Esau was entitled for a double inheritance as well as the “blessing” from his father. Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth had this description of Esau:
“As a young man he was not accustomed to holding anything back. He may have lived on the edge of danger, self-indulgence, and immediate gratification. Having his father’s favor did nothing to inhibit this behavior. But Esau had a serious problem—his brother Jacob.” Source: From Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture
Esau’s younger brother Jacob was indeed a problem but we have to keep in mind that he was without a doubt the underdog, the forgotten son by his father and worse yet, he did not live up to what Dad was looking for in a son. Effectively Jacob was “a momma’s boy” who was excessively influenced by and attached to his mother Rebekah (see Genesis 27 which tells of how she helped Jacob steal the blessing from Esau.) But before Jacob stole the blessing, he was able to steal something just as valuable from Esau as a result of his lack of will power and gluttonous ways! Genesis 25:29-34 (ESV) says:
“Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted.
And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.)
Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.”
Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?”
Jacob said, “Swear to me now.”
So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.
Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way.
Thus Esau despised his birthright.”
A little dramatic no? He gives up a double inheritance for some red stew! On the surface you would think it was because of hunger, but I see it more about the failure to resist giving into instant gratification. Charles Stanley had this great insight on Genesis 25:34…
“In ‘despising’ his birthright, Esau proved himself ‘godless’ (see Hebrews 12:16) because he considered filling his empty stomach more important than the spiritual promises of God to Abraham. To avoid making Esau’s grave mistake, always remember the H. A. L. T. principle. Whenever you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, be very careful because you are especially vulnerable to sin. Before making a decision, stop and see God. The more you give into your feelings of weakness and look for ways to fill your needs apart from God, the more you’ll reap the terrible consequences of it.”
Esau took his birthright for granted and threw it away just for a momentary fulfillment. We need to be very careful when we are in these valley moments and remember the H. A. L. T. principal as it is applicable for all temptations we face. Hebrews 12:16-17 (NLT) has this startling reference to Esau:
“Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.”
How sad that Esau lost everything to Jacob, in part because of gluttony. That is why I love the Bible; God never hides the mistakes His people made in order that we could learn from it.
We talked in previous posts about the Fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23:
The last fruit being “self-control.” That is exactly what Esau was lacking. As a believer in Jesus Christ, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives within us, (see Romans 8:11.) The closer we get to Jesus, the more we should embody the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. The temptation of Gluttony is all about excess and when we give into it we are going down a road like Esau. John Piper had this to say:
“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.’”
If that verse sounds familiar, it is because we have discussed this in several posts already but it warrants review one more time. 1 Corinthians 6:12-14, 19-20 (ESV) says:
“‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything. ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’ — and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
“The Body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” is something I have heard pastors and others use in regards to weight control but in reality the context is about sexual immorality, (see the verses in between 6:15-18.) But I do think it is applicable nonetheless as we should honor God with every aspect of our lives. To that end, as I mentioned earlier, I asked the guys in my lifegroup for their perspective of what they had learned about temptation and addictions. Here is what one had to say…
“Addiction is really a lot of the same chemical process. The only real difference is the flavor of medication.
Temptation itself is not bad or sin. Jesus was tempted in every way we are. Sin happens when you give in to it. Deep down turning from it involves seeking God…daily, and doing deep introspection to the root cause. Why am I wanting to stuff my face what emotion is driving it?
Like sex addiction, food addiction is driven by emotion… specifically trying to medicate some deep wound. A person needs to start asking themselves the question why! Why do I want to eat? What am I feeling?”
I love the honesty and truth in that statement! It was only until recently that my friend shared about his struggles with overeating. What a great warning to watch out if you are using food to medicate for deeper issues. Be careful that you are not ignoring the red flags or trying to repress your emotions. The key comes back to self-control! Though this may seem like a lesser temptation, and not that big of a deal, Esau shows how when left unchecked, gluttony can result in some pretty significant consequences. The other key is to realize that you did not get entangled in this particular sin overnight so it will take hard work and some time to break the sin habit. I read this in ‘The Art Of Celebration’ Bible Reading Plan which I thought nailed it on the head:
“We may be frustrated with patterns of sin that repeat in our lives, our niggling character flaws and lack of discipline. We may want “one-click” holiness. But Jesus doesn’t wave a magic wand of saintly character over us.
Don’t lose heart and trust God that He can and will help you in this area of temptation. I will close with this final word from Psalm 34:8:
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man [or woman] who takes refuge in Him.”
If we want to break the cycle of sin-repent, sin-repent, we must take refuge in God!
If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:
- “How Can I Conquer Gluttony?” – John Piper, Desiring God
- If you are interested in getting the plate above, check out Fruit-Full Kids plates, which is all about educating children about the Fruits of the Spirit!
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