What is gluttony?
Gluttony is defined as excessive eating or the over-indulgence in food. When one consumes far more food than is necessary the person is considered a glutton. In America, most of us can stand to lose a few pounds, but our weight or the amount of calories we consume does not necessarily make someone us gluttons. Athletes need far more calories than those who work in a desk for 8 hours a day. Some people are naturally bigger based on metabolism and other factors, even when they do not over-eat. So a person’s size is not necessarily the deciding factor for determining whether or not someone is a glutton.
To understand better what gluttony is and why it is a sin, we need to look to Scripture.
What does the Bible say about gluttony?
Paul speaks of enemies of the cross in Philippians 3, and in verse 19 he states: “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” When Paul makes this statement, he is reminding his readers that those who are enemies of the Gospel make their own desires out to be their gods. These people live for pleasures and look for satisfaction in earthly things.
Proverbs 23:21 states that gluttons will come to poverty, but the idea here is that the person is eating himself out of house and home.
More significantly the scriptures teach that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that we are to take care of our bodies (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 10:31).
Romans 13:14 states: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
The idea behind this last verse is that we are to love God more than we love the things we desire. We are to put God ahead of things. It seems that the real issue with gluttony is that people are not to love food more than they love God. They are not to make food an idol.
The enemies of God in the first passage have placed idols above God and the real heart of the matter is loving God above all.
How should Christians respond to someone who is a glutton?
I think this depends somewhat on who the person is. If the person is not a believer, then Christians need to share Christ with that person recognizing that God loves the person just where they are. If the person is a Christian but appears to love food more than he or she loves God, then the person needs to be reminded of God’s love and the position God needs to have in the person’s heart. But the person who loves food more than God may not be overweight and the person who is overweight may love God more than food, so wisdom and love need to be foundational to approaching someone as a glutton.
What if I struggle with gluttony?
If you struggle with making food an idol, you are not alone. Food appeals to our senses and it is easy to make food an idol. It provides instant gratification. If you do struggle with this, spend some time in prayer asking God to help you love him more than you love food. Ask him to help yo control your eating. Look at visiting a health clinic to determine how much you should be eating based on your size and lifestyle. Then make a plan to get healthy. Find some accountability in the process. It is always easier when you are on a team. Tell yourself that you are doing this to present your body to God as his temple and that you are doing it to honor God by taking care of yourself.
Other Kinds of Gluttons
Now for the real kicker. While gluttony typically refers to food, we often over-indulge in things that take our focus off of God. We make idols out of things that give us pleasure. In this sense, we are gluttons regarding things other than food.
What do you need to re-prioritize in your life in order to put God first?