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The Respectable Sin of Gluttony


I have a tendency to classify sin. Most of us do. We put murder or rape in “Really Bad” while embellishing a “true” story to get a better laugh belongs in “Not a Big Deal.”

We internally recognize the fallacy of the argument, but tell ourselves it is only a small sin so God is okay with it.

White lies aren’t the only sin we label as small. Gluttony is one of the most pervasive and ignored sins in the American church.

Does God take gluttony serious? Considering He says, “Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony” in Proverbs 23:2, I think so.

So if God takes gluttony seriously, why don’t we? Why aren’t we bothered by it? When was the last time we prayed for God to show us if we were guilty of this sin?

Part of the reason is that we don’t understand what gluttony is or why God is bothered by it.

Chris Donato identifies two mistakes when we approach gluttony, “The first is that it only pertains to those with a less than shapely waistline; the second is that it always involves food. In reality, it can apply to toys, television, entertainment, sex, or relationships. It is about an excess of anything.”

Why does God care so much about my food?

It is easy to picture God staring down at you with spite before you bite into that triple stack, double bacon cheeseburger. But there is nothing inherently sinful in that burger. Instead, as with so many things in our relationship with Christ, it is a heart matter. puts it like this, “Physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves. If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to control other habits, such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, anger) and unable to keep our mouths from gossip or strife. We are not to let our appetites control us, but we are to have control over our appetites. (See Deuteronomy 21:20, Proverbs 23:2, 2 Peter 1: 5-7, 2 Timothy 3: 1-9, and 2 Corinthians 10:5).”

The question is not whether we gluttonize food, but whether we worship it. The same question must be asked of every other item in our lives.

Our God is jealous (Exodus 20:5) and will not take a back seat to anything in our lives.

How can I recognize gluttony?

This has become a very personal question to me lately. A few months ago I wrote about my experience in beginning to exercise. As I became more focused on exercise, I learned how important my diet is.

I hate dieting. I want to eat whatever I want to eat. I don’t have a great willpower to deny donuts in the break room or the pizza my kids have to dinner (or lunch, or breakfast).

I had to recognize the depth of my gluttony and realize it was as much of a spiritual matter as a practical one.

I wanted that donut because I felt I deserved it. I wanted that pizza because eating it made me happy (happier than not eating it).

Whenever we look at something, be it food, entertainment, fitness, or even marriage, with the belief we will be happier with it than without it, we are on dangerous ground.

The only aspect of our lives we should have that affinity for is Christ. If everything in our lives were removed and only He remained, could we still retain our joy?

It is a simple act to answer yet, but it is difficult to put into practice. Why do we want to watch one more episode before going to bed? Because we believe watching that episode will make us happier than an extra hour of sleep. Why do we want one more slice? Because we believe we will be happier and more satisfied than not eating it.

But, if I’m being honest, I don’t look at Christ in the same way. I have never looked at Scripture and thought, One more chapter. I have never stopped in the middle of my day and thought, One more prayer.

I’m not trying to pour guilt on you or on myself, but I think this is the heart of gluttony. We must recognize the things we pursue for the sake of fulfillment and happiness and ask if we pursue them more than Christ. And this is much, much deeper than food. It begs the question, what is your god? Is it your belly? Your wallet? Your family? Your pride? Or is it the God who created and sustains all those things?



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