Once upon a time the church talked about it. It was even considered one of the seven deadly sins.
Yes, I’m talking about gluttony.
The dictionary defines it as greedy excess or indulgence, especially when it comes to food and drink. No, this blog post isn’t about healthy living and nutrition. I’m actually very fond of junk food. I’ve hardly come across any ice cream flavors that I wouldn’t eat. My favorite candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, followed closely by Twix. I’m also a big fan of meat lovers pizza and bacon cheeseburgers.
No, I’m not going to talk about proper nutrition. Ultimately, I guess, I’m talking about self-control (or the lack thereof). Because in my own life gluttony and self-control are inextricably linked.
This topic has been on my mind recently and I’ve been hit from multiple sides. My wife shared an article with me about nine sins the church is okay with now (when it didn’t use to be). On the MSN homepage I saw an article about foods you should never eat—ever! On top of that, add in the very public mess with the hack and release of users of the Ashley Madison website designed to help people looking to commit adultery (why can’t people be satisfied with their spouses?).
So I don’t really want to write about food, but self-control. It seems to me that the lack of self-control is actually at the heart of many of the sins humanity wrestles with. But we don’t like self-control. Shoot—we don’t like any control. We prefer to live like my 8-year-old, who bristles any time she is told that she can’t have her way right now. That part of our humanity seems to stick with us even as adults.
The problem is that self-control seems to be a really big deal to God. The Bible has multiple passages relating to self-control:
– A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back. (Proverbs 29:11)
– But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
– Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. (2 Peter 1:5-9)
There are more, but you get the idea. Self-control seems to be one of the characteristics of God that we are supposed to embody ourselves. Can you even imagine a world where we demonstrated self-control consistently?
I will confess that I struggle with self-control. For me one area where my lack of self-control manifests is in my eating.
“Oh, here we go, Chris. We KNEW you were going to bring it around to health and fitness.”
No, I’m not really going to spend a ton of time there. But I do confess that it’s a personal struggle. I’ve had to find tools the help me combat my own weakness – and even with good tools I have a hard time. A book I read once (for the life of me I can’t remember the name) in seminary asked how pastors can possible hope to preach about self-control as a godly virtue when so many pastors are obese. It was personally convicting.
Perhaps food isn’t an area where you struggle, but the lack of self-control can hit us in so many different areas of life. If you stopped to think about your life, you might be able to pinpoint how your spiritual life (and perhaps even your physical or mental life) could benefit from greater self-control.
If we understand what the Bible says about self-control and believe that the Bible ought to be the standard for Christian life and thought, then perhaps we ought to examine how we can implement self-control more. For me it’s how I eat. And my anger triggers and responses to my wife and kids. And…
Geezy-Pete, I’ve got some work to do.
How about you?