Friday, April 8, 2011

The Moderation of Indulgence

We entertained a nice couple last night. Two very good people who sought our counsel in regards to Angie’s recent weight loss. During the conversation, Angie illustrated her views on gluttony and while I was very well aware of them, and the sound, God honoring logic behind them, I don’t know that it had ever clicked so well in my mind as it did last night.

The early church identified seven deadly sins: Lust, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride and… yes, Gluttony.

Gluttony, as defined by Merriam-Webster is excess in eating or drinking, greedy or excessive indulgence.

I think we can also expand that definition to encompass anything from cooking to video games to scrap booking or sports; anything that takes more of our time than is necessary and/or healthy. Overindulgence is to do anything to an excessive degree. Anything.

It’s pretty obvious God doesn’t want us overindulging, especially in light of passages such as:
James 5:5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self‑indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.
By indulging in overeating we:

·         Devote a significant portion of our attention to food. Attention that could be better spent in the Word, or doing His will. 

·         Devote a larger than necessary portion of our time and resources to food; time and resources better spent on Godly things.

·         Harm our bodies, and decrease our body’s ability to perform as God designed it to. By harming our bodies, we drag down our spirit and emotional lives, for the spirit is anchored to the flesh, and if the flesh is already weak, how much weaker does it become when subjected to overindulgence?

·         By dragging down our spirit and emotions, we become less effective for God, missing the opportunities to do things for Him at our full potential. God puts others in our path that we might shine His love on them, but how much are we shortchanging those people if we’re not at 100% because we overindulge in food?

·         Our weakened body, mind and spirit become easy prey for those engaging in spiritual warfare. If God designed us to be spiritual prize fighters, yet we turn our bodies and spirits into those of couch potatoes, how easy is it for a fit enemy to defeat us?

Like everything sin related it’s a slippery slope that begins with baby missteps. No one wakes up one morning deciding to get physically, emotionally a spiritually unfit, instead we think, “It won’t hurt to grab some fast food for breakfast” Or “I’ve had a tough week, I deserve some comfort food” Or “We all have to eat, right?” or “one more chip won’t hurt anything…”

From there, it moves from “just this once” to “Well, I’ve done it before…” to “That’s what I do…” and pretty soon, our bodies, minds and souls are in worse shape than we care to admit or even realize. We’re soldiers in the army of the Lord trying to fight a war with broken down, poorly maintained equipment while telling ourselves we deserve this, selling ourselves on the notion that overindulging in food is a reward. A reward our society sells us daily. And we buy that sales pitch willingly.

I understand overindulgence more than most, I would guess. As a child, I was forced to endure hunger and often a lack of the creature comforts many of my peers took for granted. What this led to was a desire to escape my perception that my life was so much less than those around me by diving into a beer bottle. From there, I swam deeper into the waters of alcoholism and did so as if my ability to drink anyone I knew under the table was a badge of honor: Sure I didn’t have a nice car or awesome home life, but I could down a fifth of Vodka and still beat a sobriety test. Pretty soon, I didn’t drink for fun, or drink to blow off steam, I drank because it’s just what I did. I was a drinker; no longer a guy who drank, but a drinker… then a drunk.

After my awesome wife came into my life and I put that aside, I simply traded one overindulgence for another and turned into an eater; a full blown foodaholic.

From society’s point of view, I’d overcome this terrible vice of alcohol and straightened my life out.

From God’s point of view, I’d merely replaced one deadly sin with another.

Thankfully, I’ve overcome that too. Well, let me rephrase that, God has overcome that in my life. Without Him, nothing is done that has been done.

So, my question to you is: Are you moderating your indulgence? Or, are you worshipping at the altar of a false idol and rationalizing it as a reward for yourself, a deserved pleasure, as “just what you do,” “something I enjoy” another “where’s the harm in that” endeavor?

Maybe you spend too much time focused on food. Too much energy invested in a hobby. Too much time taken away from God and given to an indulgence that might be legal in man’s world, but by the very nature of your relationship with it, is illegal in the Kingdom.

If you don’t think this applies to you in any way, that’s awesome. You rock. But, before you decide it does, pray that God would show you whether your thinking on this matter is correct. If He shows you otherwise, turn it over to Him and watch as He transforms you into the son or daughter He had in mind when He knit you in your mother’s womb.
Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. 


  1. As usual, you're able to put something I believe into beautiful words and portray the message better than I ever could!

  2. From my DD today, great addition to this piece:

    In Romans 14:17, Paul said,

    For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.