Gluttony

“Can I please have another helping?”

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Gn 9:3
 
Gluttony is not something Americans invented; it’s been going on for thousands of years all around the globe. Yes of course, God does in fact allow us to eat all foods, but he didn’t tell us to eat ALL the food (Gn 9:3; Mk 7:19). Just because someone tells you to eat all you want doesn’t mean that you are required to stuff yourself silly until you almost explode.  Gluttony is such a serious problem (and sin) that the Bible tells us to put a knife to our throats if we are given to overeating (Prv 23:2).  Put a knife to your throat? Seriously? When’s the last time you saw that cutting-edge advice in a New York Times best selling diet book? (NOTE: Please do not literally put a knife to your throat! There are much safer and better ways to deal wtih the sin of gluttony.) 
 
We are told to not be anxious about food (Mt 6:25), to beware of making our bellies a god (Phil 3:19), and to remember that we need to be nourished on the Word of God rather than by simply eating bread alone (Mt 4:3-4). When we lose sight of the proper function of food, we find often times find ourselves in the out-of-control sin of gluttony.
 
The monk John Cassian (A.D. 360-435) once made a list (that's not found in the Bible) of what he called, “The Seven Deadly Sins.”   While in truth all sins are deadly, it is interesting and a bit surprising that gluttony, according to the traditional order of the list, came in at sixth place, right behind lust and just ahead of slothfulness.  Thomas Aquinas carried this topic a bit further when he defined how one can actually commit gluttony in six different ways: eating too soon, eating too expensively, eating too much, eating too eagerly, eating too daintily, and eating too wildly. One can only wonder what would happen if that list was posted in every kitchen and restaurant (not to mention the endless all-you-can-eat buffet lines) across the country.  
 

The Proverbs of Gluttony
 
The Book of Proverbs puts more focus on gluttony than any other book of the Bible. Here are a few verses that you might want to read when you’re considering whether you should order the small or the extra-large pizza for a late night snack:
  • When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food. Prv 23:1-3
  • Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. "Eat and drink!" he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words. Prv 23:6-8 
  • 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. Prv 23:20-21
  • My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Prv 24:13
  • If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. Prv 25:16
  • It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. Prv 25:27
  • One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet. Prv 27:7
  • The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father. Prv 28:7
  • Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, "Who is the LORD?" or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. Prv 30:8b-9

 The “Just Desserts” of Overeating
 
As a child, I was told that I would get dessert if I finished everything on my plate (including the spinach.) Apparently, my parents thought it a good strategy to bribe me to eat all the “healthy” stuff on my plate, regardless of the portion size. The prize? I was rewarded with scrumptious (and multiple servings of) desserts like chocolate-cream pie, pineapple upside-down cake, and/or the ever-popular red Jell-O with whipped cream. It became ingrained in me that if I belonged to the “clean plate club)” that I could have a much looked-forward-to delicious (and usually very high calorie) dessert. Interestingly enough, gluttons are also rewarded for their wayward overeating with three special “desserts.”
 
1. Poverty

For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. Prv23:21
 
2. Vomiting
 
If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. Prv 25:16
 
3. Shame

But a companion of gluttons shames his father. Prv 28:7b
 

 “Elbows off the table”
 
Dining etiquette can, at times, be a bit tricky. Is the salad fork on the inside or the outside of the setting? - (the outside) In which direction does one draw the spoon in the lobster bisque?  - (away from you) How many pieces of filet minion should one cut at a time? - (only one at a time) There seems to be all sorts of rules to remember when sitting at a formal dinning table. While we should adhere to the generally accepted dining etiquette rules, there’s also another set of dining rules that we are to follow that are found in the Bible. There’s only six, so there’s really no excuse for messing them up.
 

Eating at the Bible Dining Table 
 
1. Don't dine with a stingy host.
 
Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. "Eat and drink!" he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words. Prv 23:6-8
 
2. Don't dine with gluttons.
 
Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat. Prv 23:20
 
The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father. Prv 28:7
 
3. Before eating, check out what is set on the table before you.
 
When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you. Prv 23:1
 
4. Eat only till you are full
 
Put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food. Prv 23:2-3
 
If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. Prv 25:16
 
It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. Prv 25:27
 
One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet. Prv 27:7
 
Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, "Who is the LORD?" or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. Prv 30:8b-9
 
5. Enjoy your food!
 
My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Prv24:13
 
6. Eat to the glory of God! 
 
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Cor 10:31
 
 

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