Monday, April 13, 2015

Good Stuff to Give Up for Lent - Series #7 - GLUTTONY

While dining with a ruler, pay attention to what is put before you.  If you are a big eater, put a knife to your throat; don’t desire all the delicacies, for he might be trying to trick you.  Proverbs 23:1-3 (NLT)
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31 (NLT)
This morning we are looking at the next-to-last subject in a series of Lenten sermons on the Seven Deadly Sins.  Of course we saved the most delicious for last…controlling the demon of gluttony. 
As a teenager I recall (faintly) that the preacher had cautioned that there were many forbidden fruit in life...illicit sex, booze, smoking and cussing.  As an adult I've been warned to be honest in business, not to cheat on the IRS.  And now....THIS! 
I have a confession for you now...I have procrastinated preaching this sermon for the reason that if God truly had anything to say about over-indulging, and I stood up here and told you what He's told us, then I'd have to do something more than just TALK. 
So I serve warning this day....If I have to suffer over this gluttony thing by going on a ("D-word".....d-i-e-t), I'm gonna get mean and judgmental about just about everything else in life.  There, you've been forewarned.
My sentiments about reduced caloric intake are roughly that of the unknown poet:
Lord, grant me the strength that I may not fall,
Into the clutches of cholesterol.  
At polyunsaturates, I'll never mutter
For the road to hell is paved with butter.
And cake is cursed and cream is awful,
And Satan is hiding in every waffle
Beelzebub is a chocolate drop,
And Lucifer is a lollipop.
Teach me the evils of hollandaise,
Of pasta and gobs of mayonnaise.
And crisp fried chicken from the South --
Lord, if you love me, shut my mouth."[2]
Grandma Brownworth had a saying (for about everything); she would say:  Enough is too much.  Unfortunately my grandmother never met Garfield.  Garfield and John are watching television...the cat is shouting "Go! Go!  Go!"  John says:  "Garfield that monster shark just ate Tokyo.  Why are you cheering for it?"  With a sly smile Garfield answers:  "Anything that eats everything can't be all bad."
God has much to say about gluttony, and the principles that we can glean from His Word are more than just profitable at the dinner table; these principles spill-over into many other areas of living. 
From our text we can see there is gluttony, greed of the soul and spirit, as well as a craving for physical food.  How do you conquer the cravings?  Especially when there is a leftover chocolate éclair calling to you from the refrigerator at 2am? 
How do you conquer the other cravings, the ones that call you from a life of pleasing and knowing God, and serving Him?  Let me share with you what the Master says about the NEEDS we have in conquering all kinds of gluttony.
First we need:


To "pay attention" (in verse 1) is to understand it by knowing what consequences will come about as result of some activity or choice.  We have to pay attention to the problem of gluttony because the stakes are high. 
Just ask the prophet Daniel.  He bet his life on it!  If you recall the king had captured God's people, and Daniel was taken into captivity like the rest.  The king ordered him to eat what he provided, a rich, sumptuous fattening daily feast, fit for kings.  Daniel said, Nope, vegetables, some herbs and water, please.
At the end of 10 days Daniel looked better on his diet than the king's men.  But notice it says in that passage (Dan 1) that Daniel determined in his heart that he wouldn't defile himself with the king's food. 
This leads us to several questions:
What is the purpose of food? 
Keeping the body strong, you say!  If that is so, why do we pay such close attention to advertising that lies?  Every bit of advertising you see these days tells you that you'll feel better, smell and look better, and be better if you indulge just a little more...a little bigger, a little farther. 
The purpose of food is to strengthen us, yet 90% of what is sold at the grocery these days is bad for us. 
Another question: 
What is the purpose of the body? 
According to Paul, the purpose of this earthen vessel is to house the treasure of God's Spirit. 
The third question on my mind is: 
What in the world does any of that have to do with the gospel? 
Simple question, right?  I believe so! 
Here’s the logic:  The outward things we do manifest the inward things we are.  Jesus told the unbelieving religious leaders of His day not to worry about what went into a man.  That simply goes through the bodily functions, and is selectively eliminated.  It’s what comes out of a man that tells you what kind of man is living inside the earthen vessel. 
Modern translation:  What you do speaks so loud, I can't hear what you say you do. 
What gluttony has to do with the gospel is relative to our witness for Jesus Christ.  Our attitude toward every material thing gives away our true condition in Christ.  Remember, His admonition....unless we are ready to deny self, take up the cross and follow, we CANNOT be His disciple. 
You recall the story of how they catch monkeys in Africa?  They make a hole in a tree just big enough for the monkey to squeeze his paw inside to grab the food.  But when his hand closes on the bait, the paw then is too big to get it back out!  As long as he holds tightly to the bait his paw enlarges; he'll be bound to the tree, an easy prey for the hunter. 
We need attention of mind to see the wisdom that food is one more way that selfishness can hinder our walk.  We also need....


In verses 2-3 of our text the writer tells us what to do if we have a runaway appetite….put A Knife to the Throat. When the Proverb writer says "throat", the word means "gullet" (Latin: "luxury").  The bottom line here is...If what pleases your senses overcomes your good sense; it makes sense to declare war on the senses.  "Hold a knife to your love of appetite." 
Allow me to do that…the Sword of God's Word makes a lovely knife.  It teaches us important truths about gluttony: 
Gluttony brings natural judgments
Drowsiness  Proverbs 23:21  
Unfruitful labor  Proverbs 30:21-23
Habit forming (captivity)  Amos 6:4-7
Gluttony brings super-natural judgments
Luke 12:19,20 the rich fool gathered all into his barns, and neglected God.  He died without enjoying his prosperity.
Gluttony robs              
Israel gathered manna and quail greedily in disobedience to God.
Gluttony misleads
Esau sold his spiritual future and past for some bean stew.
Gluttony brings backfire and bankruptcy
Haaman built a scaffold so he could hang Mordecai, steal his goods to have bigger banquets and prestige, but it turned out to be his own gallows.
So, we need Attention of Mind for the sake of WISDOM...Apprehension of Desire for the sake of TRUTH....And:


So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31 (NLT)
What does a sensible, sincere disciple of Jesus Christ do when he or she reads God’s word?  We apply the principles of our Master's teaching to the way we live.  Paul says...Whatever you do, do everything, in every way, in every day, in every place, so that God receives glory. 
The natural response for the Christian who really cares to follow Christ is to ask the question:  Does it glorify God?  But I think it goes beyond that when we talk about the daily temptation we face.
If we can begin to view temptation (in every form, not just Häagen-Dazs® Rocky Road), as the form of an opportunity to prove/love God, we will begin to apply the principle of faith to overcome. 
James says (1:2) to be joyful when temptation comes. 
Paul says (Ro 12:2) to prove God's will by being changed.  Temptations can change us. 
Give me nuts and bolts for that...How do you do it?
Recognize temptation for what it is....
·        Visualize in your mind the results, both negative and positive
·        Make a choice for good. 
·        Be transformed! 
In other words Do Something the opposite direction from the temptation.
Example:  Next dinner on the grounds.....Make it healthful, low calorie, low sodium, easy on the cholesterol and preservatives.....and bring it in the door with a great big smile on your face! 
See?  What a change already!
A lady who was always on a diet, always losing and backsliding made a change.  She took a positive step, visualizing the good results.  She decided to set aside $5 a week to send to support world hunger.  It was her "binge" money.
Now, whenever she's tempted to run for the chips she knows someone else won't eat for a day; that’s constructive guilt!
I have as much to learn about controlling the glutton demon as anyone.  I do know this, however; the body is given to us to house God's Spirit....We are to be good stewards of all He has given.  My heart and mind tell me it is not good stewardship to indulge.
I can think of a whole lot of other sins that are higher on my Better-Not-Do-That list than overeating.  But, if there is any sin that leads me slowly, deliciously, but inevitably into other sins, it is a gluttonous attitude.
As a church, as families and as individuals we need to have a little restraint over our appetites and attitudes.  And we should demonstrate that for the community in which we live, starting with food.

[1] Title image:  Carl Spitzweg, via Wikimedia Commons
[2] Victor Buono (?)

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