Perhaps the most overlooked sin in America is the sin of overeating. The Bible calls this sin “gluttony.” But what is gluttony? When is the line crossed from simply enjoying a feast that is a blessing from God to overeating in gluttonous ways?
What is Gluttony? Gluttony is Eating Too Much for the Wrong Reason
Sin in general is when you take a good thing and use it in wrong ways. Food and eating are good things. Even “feasting” can be a good thing if done for the right reasons. Throughout the Old Testament God told the Israelites to celebrate him through feasts.
One difference between a holy feast and gluttony is the motivation for the eating of excessive food. One way to celebrate God is to enjoy what he has given you, which should be the motivation for a celebration like a wedding, Thanksgiving, or a birthday party. It’s not a sin to eat more during these events because a special celebration where praising God should be the motive.
A celebration is a one-time event (not daily) with a specific purpose. Gluttony, however, is a regular occurrence where the motivation for eating excessive food is simply to eat excessive food. Gluttony terminates on itself with no godly purpose in sight.
Gluttony is sin because it uses food and eating in bad ways. The motivation is rooted in selfishness, sinful pleasure, idolization, or numbing one’s pain rather than turning to God. Put simply, gluttony is not using food to celebrate God but is when you eat food and make it your god.
What is Gluttony? Gluttony is a Progressive Sin
All sin is progressive. Sin is never satisfied. It always wants more, which is why unrepentant sin always gets worse and worse. 1 Timothy 6:8-9 says, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”
While this passage speaks primarily of greed, the same principle can be applied to gluttony. Eating a lot of food is not really the problem. The real problem occurs in the “desire.”
One way to know if you are indulging in the sin of gluttony is if your desire for food is never satisfied and your intake of food keeps increasing year after year, which of course will be reflected on the scale and in your general health.
What is Gluttony? Gluttony is a Lack of Self-Control
All sin is a lack of self-control. Gluttony is no different. The sin of gluttony is when you don’t eat to live but rather you live to eat. The desire for food has overcome your desire to be healthy, to make wise financial decisions, and worst of all your desire to obey God.
When the sinful nature takes over, you will know it by the fruit you are producing, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality… envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21) Gluttony falls under the category of “things like these.”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is…self-control…And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22-24).
What is Gluttony? Gluttony Produces More Evil/Sin
When we won’t repent of sin, God’s plan of action for us is to give us over to our sin (Romans 1:24, 1 Corinthians 5:5). Jesus said in Matthew 11:19 , “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Jesus also said you shall know what kind of tree you have by what kind of fruit it produces (Matthew 7:16). What all this means in relation to gluttony is that overeating will produce bad fruit in your life:
Titus 1:12, “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons'” Gluttony will be accompanied by laziness.
Proverbs 23:21, “…for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.” Gluttony will be accompanied by poor finances.
Proverbs 28:7, “…a companion of gluttons shames his father.” Gluttony will be accompanied by shame and embarrassing others in your life.
What is Gluttony? Gluttony is Putting Your Hope in Food Rather than in God
1 Timothy 6:17 explains, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”
Food should never be seen as evil. Eating is a blessing from God. Not only should we eat and seek food, but we should also enjoy it. Out of our love for God, we should see his hand of blessing in every bight of food we take (Acts 14:17, Acts 17:25, Psalm 104:10-15). Therefore we should enjoy it.
Gluttony, however, is when we stop hoping in God and start hoping in his gift of food. May we enjoy God’s gifts and never forget they are meant to produce more love for God, not less.