Digging a Grave with a Fork (Part 4)
I Corinthians 9:25-27 reads - "And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." Paul exhorted Christians to be "temperate in all things." He advocated that we discipline our bodies and bring them into subjection (cf. I Cor. 11:1). One who is significantly overweight has failed to discipline his body as necessary. Christians should practice moderation in all things and not be given to excesses (at the dinner table or anywhere else). Philippians 4:5 reads - "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand" (KJV).

To be moderate calls for balance, not extremes. It is possible to put too much emphasis on the physical man while neglecting the spiritual man. On the other hand, it is possible to be so spiritually-focused that one's physical body is neglected by overeating or lack of exercise (sedentary preachers particularly come to mind). Neither extreme is good! I Timothy 4:8 states - "Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." It is true that the spiritual should be given priority (cf. Matt. 4:4), but that doesn't mean we can ignore the physical laws of health and not suffer dire consequences. We need proper balance between neglecting our bodies and giving them too much attention. What we do with our forks is important! As I observe my fellow Americans, I see that as a people many of us are as wealthy as kings and princes, but we are not noble when it comes to restraining ourselves. As a result, we eat for pleasure rather than for strength. Let us be grateful to God for His rich blessings and not be gluttonous.

"It's about time you used that word, Stephen! It's in the Bible." Indeed it is. I've avoided using the term "gluttony" thus far for a reason: I think the term is often misunderstood and we need to be careful to use it correctly. Gluttony is a sin, but I'm not convinced that everything labeled as gluttony today really is. Before I elaborate on the meaning of the word, let's read the seven Scriptures in which a form of the word "glutton" is used:

Well, there you have it. Seven passages total (though one is a parallel verse). Of the six distinct passages, four of them mention drunkenness also (e.g., "drunkard," "winebibber," etc.). It seems that gluttony, drunkenness, and laziness are closely associated sins. So what exactly is gluttony? Gluttony is the habitual overindulgence of food and drink. If a person takes a day off occasionally, he would not rightly be called "lazy" if he is otherwise a hard-worker. Likewise, if a person occasionally eats more during one meal than his body needs, he would not rightly be called a "glutton" if he is otherwise a temperate eater. Don't misunderstand, it is certainly possible to sin by eating too much at one meal (e.g., eating until you vomit), but I'm not persuaded that eating until you are very full on a special occasion is gluttony. One is a glutton if he has a pattern of overeating.

We will conclude this study in our next lesson.