The saying goes that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and for me, this has proven to be true on more than one occasion. I love food. I love cooking food, creating dishes, and mimicking cooking techniques of some of my favorite celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Mario Batali. I enjoy the good pleasures a freshly prepared meal by my own hands brings. The Disney-Pixar movie “Ratatouille” is one of my favorites because it centers around cooking and the pleasures that come from it, both ethereal and physical. All this to be said, I love food and anything having to do with food, from planting to harvest to transforming it into eatable delicacies. The question arises though, “Does this make me a glutton?” The short answer is no, and this is because I do not idolize food or worship food or constantly desire food or drink.
Ultimately the aim of this brief article is to demonstrate what is truly so dangerous about the sin of gluttony, but first I want to answer the question that so many people get wrong, “What is gluttony?”
Gluttony is defined by Merriam-Webster as an “excess in eating or drinking.” The only thing, I would add to this definition is that gluttony is indulging in anything carnal or materialistic excessively.
To be a glutton is more than loving food and cooking food with a passion. To be a glutton is to idolize food, drink, and even sometimes something like exercise, which is inherently good for you, but when put above your relationship with God ends in suffering physically from over indulging. To be a glutton means that you’re relying on an earthly pleasure to replace spiritual pleasures found only in the worship of God. To be a glutton means that you’re placing your trust in and worshipping something that is carnal and expecting a return or some form of satisfaction that only God can bring through worshipping Him. To be a glutton is to indulge in anything in excess whether it be food, drink, sex, material wealth, or even exercise.
Does the Bible really teach this though? Does the Bible teach that gluttony is more than the excessive eating of food and drink? That answer is a resounding yes. Philippians 3:19 refers to gluttony in this way, “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Did you see that? Not only is a glutton someone who worships what goes into their belly, but someone who glories in their shame and sets their minds on earthly materialistic things. What does the Apostle Paul mean by this? Well, here Paul is referring to two other things besides food and drink.
Fighting Against Gluttony
First off “and they glory in their shame” is referring to people who are doing shameful things such as committing adultery, following the passions and lust of the flesh, and living willfully disobedient lives contrary to what God demands and being proud of it. They are literally glorifying themselves for their disobedience and don’t care about any consequences for living in rebellion against God.
Secondly, we see that a glutton sets their minds on things that are worldly and materialistic. They idolize wealth, and socio-economic privilege, hoard material possessions, and live outside one’s means so as to impress others. They also indulge in lifestyles that bring about moral destruction such as extramarital sex, conforming to the celebrity culture of Hollywood, or engaging in behavior that promotes the worship of self-satisfaction over the worship of God.
Ultimately the sin of gluttony is a sin of idolatry and what is being idolized are things that bring people pleasure instead of God. Those who are gluttons are worshipping a false god. They are giving themselves over to greed, self-satisfaction, and the excessive consumption of things God intended for good. Paul, in Philippians 3, writes to the church in Philippi to watch out for the “dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.”, because these people are those, who will lead others to destruction and the worship of self.
The sin of gluttony is about so much more than overeating and over consuming drink. It is the prioritizing of worshipping oneself rather than God. It is also idolizing earthly pleasures over the pleasures only God can bring. Gluttony Proverbs 23:2 says, leads to death and destruction. Gluttony is a false god that will lead you down a road where there is no salvation to be found. Gluttony can only be combatted by the faithful worship and adoration of the LORD God and the satisfaction that is found in the grace of God.
Friend, if you find yourself beholden to overindulging in things of this world and not indulging in the Lord Jesus who bled, died, and rose for you, I beg you to repent and trust that Christ is enough for you. Don’t give into the temptation to worship yourself and indulge yourself with things of this world. Give yourself to God and know that He is enough for you.
Yes, food is good and creating new dishes brings me pleasure, but for me, food is only good because I know God who created it and it is a marvelous gift from Him. Therefore, I worship the Creator and Giver of every good and perfect gift because He is God and I am not.
James Forbis is a graduate of The University of Arkansas, a former Jr. High and High School football coach, and American history teacher. He is completing his M.DIV at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Great Commission Studies and Expository Preaching. He’s a self-proclaimed sweet tea connoisseur and Tex-Mex addict. Most Saturday’s you can find him cheering on his Arkansas Razorbacks, hiking or fishing, or reading up on his favorite subject, the Revolutionary War, or spending time with his wife.