Gluttony Kills Joy

Eve didn't eat the forbidden fruit because she was hungry.

She ate the fruit because it held out a promise to her. It was a big, fat lie; but prompted by the serpent, it offered a promise, nonetheless . The promise was that by eating the fruit, she would gain pleasure, wisdom, and fulfillment.

Though the most perfect and whole foods were available to her in Eden, she sought the thing that was forbidden.

Why do we too--the daughters of Eve, want the things that are forbidden? the big, fat lies that pose as promises? the very things that leave us empty and unfulfilled rather than truly satisfied?

This chapter of Killjoys calls for a heart examination surrounding issues of food. This is not a post to help one stick to her diet as spring comes around. This post is about the sin of gluttony. I always considered gluttony to be simply gorging on food--overeating. But under closer examination in Chapter 7, we learn gluttony is less about food than it is about unruly appetites.

Food was given by God to sustain us, offering us at least three times daily to rest from our labor and be refreshed and refueled. Our need for it is a constant reminder that we are not self-contained organisms. We depend on things outside of ourselves to live. The Christian learns that this daily bread and provision ultimately comes from God and it is a tool to drive us to him. But just like with any thing we were created to do, sin has perverted the scene.

Gluttony is the wrong use of food to satisfy some deeper craving: comfort, pleasure, acceptance, peace. We may readily accept that there can be an abuse of food--eating too much. But the author of this chapter draws out another important side of gluttony--the meticulous avoidance of foods as well. I found this chapter to be so helpful!

Gluttony is when we seek our satisfaction either in the foods we consume, or the foods we avoid. Here are some example with overeating. You may have waited till all of the kids were served their pie to have yours. You finally sit down to enjoy it, when the baby comes crying for a bite, someone spilled their milk, and the dog needs let out--so now you are interrupted and you had to share. Clearly, you deserve another piece so that you can enjoy it in peace, right? Or maybe you have worked all day and you do deserve a break today, so you super-size your meal and add a chocolate shake at the drive thru as a reward. You earned it!

In each of these examples, the second piece of pie or a super-sized meal is not wrong. But under closer examination, what is the motivation of the heart? The mom is looking for peace and rest. She is driven to food to find it. The hard-working woman is looking for a reward to a long day. She upgrades her calories to tell her she did a good job. But the thing about looking for peace and worth in food is that they come up empty. The peace is momentary if at all, and the reward ends up making you feel sluggish and guilty. And doing this regularly adds to the waistline.

On the flipside of that coin, gluttony can be the avoidance of food, whereas we become defined by what we will not eat. This might include being militant with a diet, naming foods as morally suspect, finding a sense of righteousness in where you shop or what you will/will not eat. Anorexia and bulimia would fall along the distorted extremes of this continuum. On this side of coin, there is a sense of control or worth that the avoidance of food gives a person. It too is gluttony.

So gluttony makes a god of food--either in excess or in abstinence. Food becomes the god that brings comfort or worth. But what a terrible master! It leaves you either filled up on emptiness or it makes you hungry for more, but elusive control. 

"Gluttony is food worship. It directs the appetite toward improper ends--looking to our taste buds for the satisfaction that God offers us in his fellowship through Christ.*"

So what is the remedy for these distorted appetites? As with all sin, the remedy is Jesus Christ. Rather than finding our peace and worth in food, we need to be driven in our hunger and need to our true Daily Bread, Christ. This may sound like a spiritual platitude: don't turn to food, turn to God.

But what the author says is that we are to find our worth and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we go to our Lord rather than "eating our emotions", or we find our worth in the promises of Scripture rather than in the righteousness we think our eating habits offer, we are able to control our appetites and bring them under right submission. Food takes its rightful place.

The author gives 10 practical steps to fight gluttony. I will summarize three:

1. Self-control is freedom and gluttony is bondage.

It can feel as though removing restraints offers the greatest freedom in life. But in the end, in due time, sin leaves a lot of wreckage. True freedom is found in Christ and one fruit of the Spirit is self-control. This is a gift of God, not a matter will-power. Self-control offers you the ability to rightly delight in the good gifts God gives, including food.

2. Set aside time for occasional feasting. Set aside time for occasional fasting.

God is not a god of deprivation. Reading through the Old Testament reveals how he is a god of great celebration and feasting. He built many times into the Israelite's yearly calendar to celebrate and rejoice. God is not a killjoy! We too can enjoy times of celebration and feasting with a heart of thanks to God. When we have the occasional feast, the author says we should do so without guilt and give thanks to God.

The author challenges us to also set aside times for fasting. Fasting--abstaining from food for a time of prayer, intensifies our desire for the Bread of Life, Christ himself. Refusing physical food for a set time in order to consume spiritual food drives us to Christ. Fasting is a way to keep worldly appetites in check and create a greater hunger for godly appetites. 

3. Give thanks to God before eating.

Such a simple but significant practice: praying before each meal. Offering prayers of thanks to God for each meal put before us helps us remember that we are reliant on him for our very life. Asking God to help us control our appetites even as we eat and to appreciate the food itself strengthens self-control and also our joy in eating it.

May we continue to press in to Christ as we search each area of our heart and give thanks knowing that though none of us is righteous, he is! and he offers us salvation under his cross.

Thank you, Jesus!

Love, Erika

 

*Killjoys, Chapter 7 Gluttony by Jonathan Bowers

The Glory of the Divine Abandonment

Jesus.

There is no name greater than His.  And it’s a privilege to be able to write on this blog about Jesus.  To share Him with women who don’t know Him, to speak His name to those whose eyes have become distracted from Him; this is the privilege I mean.  Can we ever know Him too well or read about Him too much?  Is there a woman who doesn’t know of one who needs an introduction to this glorious Savior?  May the words of my mouth truly be acceptable in God’s sight as I share today about some of Christ’s final words on the cross.

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Matthew 27: 45-46

Those words.  The thought of God abandoning His only Son while in the most tormented trial is completely foreign to those who believe and love Him.  Daily, no matter what we endure in this life, we are never forsaken by our Heavenly Father.

But Jesus was.

Are you alone in a hospital room receiving radiation for cancer?  Has your husband died leaving you widowed?  Is the pain from rejection by a dear friend making you feel lonely and heartbroken?  Even in these sorrowful times, the children of God can never say, “But God has forsaken me.”  Never. 

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we may boldly say, “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”
Hebrews 13: 5-6

And yet Jesus was forsaken.

This wasn’t a Divine mess-up on God’s part.  He didn’t drop the ball when it came to the crucifixion.  Rather, this was the very plan, every single detail had been orchestrated and was being played out perfectly.  As Jesus knew His death was imminent, He endured the mocking, the beatings, the excruciating pain, and finally:  utter separation and abandonment from God the Father.

But why?

Perfect Jesus, the One who took on human form and flawlessly obeyed in all things, became the spotless lamb upon the sacrificial altar, the cross, in order to become the atonement, the solution, for our sins.  He took our sins upon His perfect self and this reconciled us to the holy God.

As He became sin for us, the noon skies grew dark and God turned His face away from the sacrificial Lamb.  My slothfulness, my anger, my lust, my jealousy, my selfishness, my gossiping, my bitterness, my complaining, my discontentment, my every single sin was placed upon Jesus and God’s wrath was poured out against each of them.  Yours too.  Instead of perfect union, Jesus faced complete abandonment…for us.

If you don’t know Jesus as Savior and Lord, understand this:  those sins that you know you battle and can’t get any peace because of the guilt, they are removed as far as the east is from the west because of Jesus.  He has borne your sins, endured the wrath of a holy God against them, was forsaken because of doing so, and then was reconciled…and He reconciled us…to God when the work was complete.

If you’re already a Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, be renewed in hearing this again today.  You will never be left or forsaken by God because Jesus took your place.  As He took on your sins, He gave you His righteousness.  You are righteous now because of His work on earth and on the cross.  You have been made “just as if you’d never sinned” and “just as if you’ve always obeyed”. 

Praise God!  May our response be this to the world…

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5: 20-21

Love, Wendy

Sinful Anger Kills Joy

So far in this series, we have looked at pride and its antidote: humility, as well as envy and its cure, gratitude. Today we examine anger a little more closely with the help of the book, Killjoys

Anger is different than other sins in that there can be a righteousness to it. God himself gets angry. The God of the Bible is not a volatile god. He is slow to anger and abounding in love. When his anger is finally revealed, it is typically after he has offered repeated provisions to escape it. But we cannot ignore that God's anger and wrath exist. To deny God's anger is to cast off huge portions of his inspired word and make him into only a nice, safe, gentle god. He is loving and tender, but he protects his glory and holiness--and often with anger.

The trouble with our anger though is that it is often not righteous. We know this because the after-effects of sinful anger do not produce righteousness, but only guilt and shame. Not only do we sin in our anger, we may be tempted to go a step further and place the perceptions we have of sinful anger onto God and assume his anger is the same as ours.  

Our anger is the yuck that pours our when we are jarred. Our anger is an indicator of what is in the heart in the first place. Killjoys* says that our anger is the result of disordered loves: mainly, that we love ourselves too much....our agenda, our ego, our plans.

Anger does indeed motivate others to act. It gets the results it wants, but what is left in its wake? A reputation for having a short fuse? broken trust? people who won't be honest with you for fear of your reaction? 

Of course I am no master at fighting sin (which is why I want to offer the wisdom that is found in this book and God's word), but the author of this chapter gives three practical steps to conquer sinful anger:

1. Analyze anger early. When you feel your blood pressure rise, ask yourself "What do I have to be angry about?...Interrogate your affections!" Stop and ask, why am I spilling out this yuck when jarred? Why is my heart moved to feel this angry?

2. Remember the ridiculousness of sinful anger. Our anger shows how self-centered we can be. "We are angry in ways we should not be and at the same time not angry at what angers God." Can we see the ridiculousness of our anger in the moment? Seeing it for what it is will help talk us down from the ledge of losing it. The antidote for sinful anger is seeing our selfish desires for what they truly are and then dying to them.

3. Know that righteous anger may result when honoring God's name. Righteous anger is actually love in motion. It is a way of protecting the object of our love. You may yell at your daughter to stop when she carelessly runs through the parking lot, because you love her and don't want her to get hit by a car. This is a simple example of righteous anger protecting the object of our love. God's glory should be one thing we grow to love. Righteous anger should be driven by a desire to protect and honor God's holy name.

The Bible makes provision for righteous anger, but we cannot use this as a license to sin. Ephesians 4:16 In your anger do not sin.

The final expression of God's holy anger is still to come. His wrath will be revealed and it will be just. No argument that will stand against it.

But there is a provision for escape! And it is the good news! It comes through Jesus' death on the cross. If we fall under the covering of its protection by putting our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be saved. 

During these days of preparation, do we recognize the great grace we have received because of the cross? John 3:16 is appropriately one of the most-quoted verses in the Bible because it summarizes the Gospel. 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

But for any who feel Christ came to condemn the world and his message is one of judgment, read on...

John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 

Apart from Jesus, we ALL stand condemned. It is most loving for those who are being saved to tell others about the righteous anger to come.

For those who don't know: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Come under the protection and forgiveness of the cross!

For those who already believe: may we stand firm in the faith God has given us and make his glory and provision of love in Christ known. May we not be driven by sinful anger in our daily doings or in our sharing Christ with others, but as we stand as Christ's ambassadors, may we rightly defend his name.

In Christ's love, 

Erika

*Quotes taken from Ch 4 of Killjoys, written by Jonathan Parnell