Digging a Grave with a Fork (Part 3)
I have friends who are overweight or obese and they know they should cut back, make better food choices, and exercise more (because of what their doctor says, as well as what I Cor. 6:19,20 tells them). Yet, even with this knowledge, few seem to make lasting changes. And why not? Because for most it takes a lot of discipline and self-denial to take off pounds. And, if their desire at the dinner table exceeds their desire to lose weight, they won't be successful. "But Stephen, you don't really know what it's like to be fat! You can lose weight easily and have been blessed genetically in that way." Guilty as charged. I do not deny that some people have to work much harder to lose weight than others, but I do deny that there is any person that cannot lose weight if he or she really wants to and is willing to pay the price, so to speak! Smokers, alcoholics, and drug users could make the same charges against me. "You don't know what it's like to be addicted!" They're right; I don't know what it is like. But, I also know that we have all been given free choice in life. We choose when we pick up a cigarette, a beer, a needle, or a second plate of food! Don't be brought under the power of any "thing" (cf. I Cor. 6:12). You are strong enough to beat any addiction--if you really want to! You are in control of your choices, even when you're hungry and capable of consuming a lot of food. Just because you want to and know you can doesn't mean you should!

Well, enough about me. What about you, dear listeners? Is your weight in an acceptable range? Would God call you a good steward of the body He has entrusted into your care? According to obesity charts (based on a person's BMI), a man of average height (5'10") and average muscular build is considered to be overweight at 174 pounds, obese at 209 pounds, and severely obese at 279 pounds on the scale. A woman of average height (5'5") and average muscular build is considered to be overweight at 150 pounds, obese at 180 pounds, and severely obese at 240 pounds on the scale. By way of disclaimer, some charts do vary a little in their numbers since there is no definitive way of assessing obesity.

So, should a Christian never enjoy a large meal? Is feasting on some special occasion (e.g., a birthday, family gatherings, Thanksgiving, etc.) always a sin? I believe the answer is "no." John 2 comes to mind where Jesus attended a wedding celebration. The point I want to observe is this: Jesus participated in a feast where there was evidently plenty of food (they didn't run out of that) and plenty of drink (thanks to Jesus). If Jesus could participate in such an occasion without sinning, then so can I (cf. Heb. 4:15). I Corinthians 10:31 is also helpful here - "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." I'm not about to become the "Plate Police," and tell you that going back for seconds (or even thirds) is always wrong. Can you eat seconds to the glory of God? Perhaps, but you sure can't do it regularly if you are going to take good care of the body God has entrusted into your care. You decide when to pick up the fork and when to put it down! All food, even dessert, has some value to the human body (some foods more so than others), but that value is negated when the total calories of the food ingested consistently exceeds what is needed by the individual. If you just can't seem to help yourself and continue to eat far more than your body requires, you've got a problem--and it will be apparent to those around you. When little attempt is made to control the appetites of the body, such a person will carry around an advertisement of his lack of self-control (typically, a large stomach)!

Paul wrote in Philippians 3:18,19 - "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame--who set their mind on earthly things." Paul denounces those "whose god is their belly." The worshiping of anything before God is the sin of idolatry. If Paul states that one's stomach (or desires) can become one's god, then we need to take heed. If we let our appetites rule us, we sin (this applies to any type of excess, not just eating). Our minds are to be set on things above (cf. Col. 3:2). One who is consumed with eating is not seeking the kingdom of God and righteousness first (cf. Matt. 6:33). As someone once said about this type of person: "The kitchen is their shrine, the cook their priest, the table their altar, and their belly their god." It is good and necessary to eat in order to live, but living to eat is a mistake.

We will continue addressing this theme in our next lesson.