Reading: Proverbs 23:1-35
In today’s chapter there is much about eating and drinking. It’s always a surprise to me that in the fourth century lists of the ‘deadly sins’, gluttony used to head the list. It was the most significant! Pope Gregory wrote, ‘Unless we first tame the enemy dwelling within us, namely our gluttonous appetite, we have not even stood up to engage in the spiritual combat.” Gluttony, for Pope Gregory, stood for all the sins of the flesh: the love of comfort, luxury and laziness. We see that this is mirrored in today’s chapter. We are warned not to love the luxuries of a ruler (1-3), or a miser (6-8), not to over indulge our appetites (20-21, 29-35) because these all lead to laziness (21) and ultimately, death.
Gluttony is an inordinate obsession with food and drink. It is about getting eating and drinking out of proportion. We are actively encouraged to over-eat; food deals, and even supermarket food advertising is so over the top it is sometimes called ‘food porn’. On our T.Vs it seems that there are wall to wall food programmes. (Or perhaps that is just me when I’m hungry!)
John Piper helpfully writes, “Our appetites dictate the direction of our lives – whether it be the cravings of our stomachs, the passionate desire for possessions or power, or the longings of our spirits for God. But for the Christian, the hunger for anything besides God can be an archenemy, while a hunger for God – and him alone – is the only thing that will bring us victory.” I’m often hungry for food, but I want to be hungry for God
Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:17-21 NIV)
Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. (Proverbs 23:17 ESV)
Father, I come to you! Let my heart be changed and renewed by your Spirit. I realise that the greatest enemy of hunger for you in my life is that I can satisfy my needs, at least temporarily, with stuff, alcohol and food. Jesus, I can see that my desire for pleasures can at times dull my appetite for you. I am deeply sorry. I know that a person does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from you! Help me to live hungry for you. In Jesus name. Amen.
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