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What is gluttony? Is it gluttony to enjoy eating food?

Food is not inherently bad. Eating is not inherently bad. Food is literally the fuel God made to run this amazing machine that is your body. Enjoying eating? Also, not inherently bad. If God had wanted to, He could have created us without taste buds or only provided one type of tasteless "fuel" for our bodies to run on. But instead, "out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food" Genesis 2:9a). Food was created to be both useful and a joy.

Why is gluttony a sin?

First, we need to understand what gluttony really is. Gluttony isn't a word we use much today, so the meaning can be misunderstood. Let's see if we can figure it out based on what the Bible says:

"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." —Proverbs 23:20-21

"If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it." — Proverbs 25:16

"Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things." —Philippians 3:19

Enjoying different foods, cooking food, and savoring delicious food is not gluttony. Gluttony isn't really about food but rather a lack of self-control. You could have a burger or pizza at school every day for lunch and not be a glutton. On the other hand, you could be gluttonous with a bowl of pears if you couldn't stop eating them. Do you see the difference? It's is not WHAT you eat but rather if the eating controls YOU.

A glutton allows their urges and temptations to control their actions rather than taking control of themselves (Romans 8:9). Our physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves in other areas of our lives. If we can't control our eating habits, we're probably also unable to control sinful habits such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, anger) or controlling our mouths so we don't gossip or cause strife.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against these things there is no law." —Galatians 5:22

"God did not give us a Spirit of timidity, but a Spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." —2 Timothy 1:7

We shouldn't let our appetites control us. (See Deuteronomy 21:20, Proverbs 23:2, 2 Peter 1:5-7, 2 Timothy 3:1-9, and 2 Corinthians 10:5.) The ability to say "no" to anything in excess is a practice of self-control.

How can I develop self-control with food?

If you suspect you may have trouble controlling your food cravings, begin to examine your motivations to help determine why you are turning to food. Is it a physical hunger or an emotional or spiritual hunger? When you're in a situation where you may lose that self-control, ask yourself if you're actually hungry or if you're using a snack to fulfill some other need. What is that need? How else can you fulfill that need?

When you can start telling the difference between physical hunger and a spiritual or emotional hunger, that is when you can practice self-control. Ask God to help you know when you are satisfied during a meal or snack and begin to regain control over using food as God intended.

I want to challenge you to view food not as good or evil but just as different kinds of fuel for your body.

Some foods help bodies run better than others, but in the end, it's all just different flavors of fuel. If you have a hard time practicing moderation but your family stocks junk food in the kitchen, you've got a bit of a challenge ahead of you. Try using a bowl to portion out snacks when you truly need them. If you feel comfortable doing so, consider researching what snacks are healthier than others and talking to your family about having healthier options at home.

As a side note, can I stress this: Working out should NEVER be a punishment for eating. Using exercise as a punishment will only create disdain for physical activity. (Hello. I'm speaking for myself here too!) Our bodies are amazing and working out should be used as a way to see what our bodies can do—never as a punishment for what you fed your body.

God has blessed us with amazing foods to eat and enjoy and be filled with—things that make us feel good and keep us going. We can honor God's creation by appreciating these lovely foods in a way that doesn't hurt us or make us lose control.

TL;DR

Gluttony isn't really about food but rather a lack of self-control. A glutton allows their urges and temptations to control their actions rather than taking control of themselves (Romans 8:9). If we can't control our eating habits, we're probably also unable to control other habits or temptations that cause us to sin. When you can start telling the difference between physical hunger and a spiritual or emotional hunger, that is when you can practice self-control.

By: Heidi Joelle

Heidi Joelle is an executive assistant by day and a writer, editor, and reader by night. She can be coaxed from the house by the sound of a good adventure or traveling somewhere new. Her sidekick Smokey the Saint Bernard is rarely far off, usually pretending he's asleep.

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