Monday, March 27, 2023

Freedom from Food (Proverbs 23:1–3, 19–21)

"Put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite" (Prov. 23:2).

Seneca once said, “I am greater and born to great things, than to be the servant of my body.” If a heathen can recognize the folly of indulging the flesh, how much more should a Christian strive to be free from the bondage of carnal indulgences. For the past week, we have been examining what Proverbs has to say about controlling the tongue. This week we will broaden our examination to other areas of our lives where we need to exercise self-control.

One such realm is eating. This may not seem like a spiritual concern, but how we control our appetite reflects our spiritual state. Gluttony is a serious sin. People do not have to be overweight to be gluttons; they can simply be enslaved to food in one way or another. (They can also be dominated by a preoccupation not to eat.) They will forgo many religious exercises without a second thought, but they won’t miss a meal. They’ll go days without feeding on the Word and nourishing their soul, but they won’t fail to feed their bodies. They not only consume too much, but they regularly indulge in junk, filling the temple of the Holy Spirit with delicacies that will shorten, rather than prolong, life.

Gluttony means you are enslaved to a creature—food—rather than to the Creator. “God gives us our body to feed, not to pamper; to be the servant, not the master, of the soul.” Bridges wrote. “He gives bread for our necessities, but man craves ‘meat for his lust.’ We are to ‘make provision’ for the wants, not ‘for the lusts of the flesh’ ” (Rom. 13:14). We can certainly enjoy food, relishing in the wholesome aroma and taste of a succulent meal, but when food begins to be our master we have stepped from the realm of godly enjoyment to bitter bondage and sin.

Examine yourself. Are you enslaved to food? If so, confess your sin and make no provision to feed the lust of your flesh. Take every godly means possible to rid yourself of temptation—even if it takes asking someone you live with to help you refrain from indulging your desires. If the problem is so great, it may take removing all unnecessary foods from your house for a period of time. Resolve even as Paul did to discipline your body “and bring it into subjection” (1 Cor. 9:27).

If you have fallen into the sin of gluttony, confess it to God and ask for strength to overcome it. Remove all your temptations by banishing tempting food from your house. Designate specific times for meals and resolve not to open the refrigerator or cupboards at any other time. Ask someone to help keep you accountable.