Christians today are often quick to label smoking or drinking as sins, but for some reason when it comes to overeating there is no discussion. It is simply tolerated.
Many believers who would never consider having a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette have no qualms about gorging themselves at the dinner table. Why? Has overeating become Christianity’s most ignored sin?
How should we think about this topic?
1. Overeating is a Sin Like Getting Drunk
There are seven direct references to gluttony (i.e. overeating) made in Scripture that view it as sinful alongside drunkenness. Below are a few examples:
Deuteronomy 21:20 – 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.’
Proverbs 23:20-21 – 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.
Even one of the false sinful accusations aimed at Jesus was that He was a glutton, highlighting how the Jews viewed overeating as sinful behavior.
Matthew 11:19 – The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
Because gluttony is mentioned alongside drunkenness, we can get some insight into how this sin occurs. Much like drinking alcohol is not a sin (see my blog post, Do You Want a Beer?), and must be consumed in moderation to avoid the sin of getting drunk, so eating food is not a sin but must be consumed in moderation to avoid the sin of gluttony.
It is one of those balancing acts in the Christian life that can’t be avoided. You must eat to stay alive, but if you overeat, you have entered into sinful behavior.
2. Eating in Moderation is a Spiritual Issue
Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
“Self-control” highlights how the Spirit of God is working in our lives. God wants you to live a balanced life that looks to Him for strength in order to control your sinful appetites. If you are unable to control your eating habits, this indicates a spiritual problem that is taking place and will often result in the inability to control other sinful habits such as covetousness, anger, gossip, strife, etc.
God calls you and me to have control over our sinful appetites, which also includes gluttony. I recognize this is a tough subject to talk about because it impacts us all. Trust me, as a former glutton myself, I understand the temptation and wrestle that occurs at every meal.
It is no mystery that America has a significant overeating problem, but as Christians, we are called not to live like the world but to be an example of balance and moderation. So the next time you thank God for your food before a meal, also ask Him to help you with portion control and to avoid Christianity’s most ignored sin…gluttony!
Disclaimer: My intention is to only deal with the sin of gluttony as a general topic. I recognize there can be additional medical issues that may weigh in on the discussion.
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