Gluttony-A Deadly Sin
by John Kapteyn
We have been talking about deadly sins. Sins that plant themselves deep within us and can take over our lives. Sins that lead us to other sin and sins that separate us from God.
Today we look at a fifth deadly sin. And as we consider this sin – it may seem harmless compared to the others. After all, is gluttony not simply a problem about eating too much. Is that real that bad a sin? And do we really have a problem with gluttony? How many people here have a problem with eating too much?
Well, that may be true. We may not have a problem with eating too much but we may still have a problem with gluttony. And as we consider what gluttony really is, we may discover that we need to deal with this sin as well.
What is gluttony? One Bible dictionary defines a glutton as one habitually given to greedy and voracious eating. To be voracious means to be exceedingly eager. To be called a glutton is not a nice thing. A glutton a person was given to loose and excessive living. In the NT it was used to describe a rascal or scoundrel who had a uncontrolled or excessive fondness for some specified object or pursuit.
Gluttony has to do with much more than food. A glutton is one who craves food but a glutton is also any person who is craving for something to satisfy his soul.
For the hunger we feel is a much deeper hunger than to fill our stomach. For there is a great cavity within each one of us that earns to be filled. We often fill that hunger with things – clothes, jewelry, cars, sex, food. We eat out of boredom, we eat to rewards ourselves, we eat out of frustration (so easy to eat when we are upset), we eat when we are depressed, we eat when we are stressed or angry. We eat because we hope it will satisfy our longing. But it doesn’t.
Our real inner longing isn’t for food. It is for something deeper and more meaningful. Our longing is for purpose, for love, for community, for God. That is why God put that hunger in us.
But that hunger is painful and rather than allow us to see how empty we are without God we fill it before we get to that point that we ask God to fulfill our deepest desires.
Frederick Buechner says that a glutton is one who runs to the icebox for a cure to a spiritual malnutrition. That we use our possessions to camouflage a bankrupt emotional and spiritual life. That we seek status and position to camouflage our low self-esteem. We run after anything and everything to camouflage our fear of becoming nothing.
The prophet Amos made this charge against the people of Israel:
Amos 6:-5 You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.
The nation was in political, and more important yet, spiritual ruin and yet they drank and indulged themselves to excess so they ignored there problems. Like someone who goes to the fridge to get a sandwich or another bottle of beer rather than to deal with the problems in their life. They escape reality but nothing is really changed. To close my eyes top a situation does not take it away.
What do you crave in life? What do you desire more than anything else? What satisfies your soul’s appetite? Is it food, is it drink? Is it work? It is so easy for a man to work long hours to feel important or to escape the problems in his marriage. Is it recognition? is it acceptance? Iis it a sport or hobby you can loose yourself in?
So often these things do not seem that bad. In fact these things are gifts from God. God has blessed us with so much food and such a variety of tastes. But we can so easily abuse this gift. We can abuse our talents, our work, our skills, almost anything.
And when we do, we see why gluttony is such a terrible sin.
For the things we crave are of no lasting value. That’s what Solomon discovered as he looked back over his life
Eccl 2:10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
It leads to poverty – even in this world.
Prov 23:20 Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.
We see it addicts – even the rich can loose it all.
It stops us from dealing with the problems and lets them increase
Isa 22:13 But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! “Let us eat and drink,” you say, “for tomorrow we die!”
If the people had dealt with the problem they they would not die tomorrow. God would not have judged Israel. See this in time of Noah. Perhaps to drunk or full to see flood waters coming, but they came none the less. More concerned with cravings than with building an ark.
And gluttony make selfish – parable of rich man and Lazarus
Luke 16:19-21 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
Gluttonous person will not share since he cannot ever get enough for himself.
To be gluttonous leads us to sin to satisfy the cravings of our sinful nature rather than to be godly.
Rom 13:13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
And the worst things is that our true hunger will never be satisfied.
Jesus teaches us that we are to crave only one kind of food – food that comes from heaven. Symbolically that is what the feeding of the 5,000 was about. There was a great hunger – over 5,000 people.
There was a small boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish. The boy must have craved this food. But he gave that food to Christ. Trusting in Him to fill His hunger rather than this food.
When we give our cravings over to Christ, when we ask him to fill them rather than to fill them with our own food, then he feeds us. He feeds us with food that is more than we need. They all had enough to eat. Matthew says they were all satisfied. And there was still much left over.
There is nothing wrong with having a good meal. Jesus enjoyed good meals – some even called Him a glutton. In heaven we will enjoy a rich feast. But our feeding must not be for deeper purposes.
It must be for strength.
Eccl 10:17 Blessed are you, O land whose king is of noble birth and whose princes eat at a proper time– for strength and not for drunkenness.
When we seek to have our cravings, our emptiness filled by Christ, then and only then will we be satisfied.
John 6:27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
Friends, are you hungry? Do you feel empty inside? Have you tried to fill that emptiness but somehow could not? Have you tried to be so busy that you could pretend that it is isn’t there? These things have not really worked, have they?
Confess to God that you have not brought your hunger to Him. That you have had your desires filled elsewhere. That you have lived for work or pleasures that have not satisfied.
God calls you to come to Him.
Isa 55:1-2 Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Come to His table. Eat of the bread of life. Crave for the Lord, seek Him with all your might.