“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.” Philippians 3:18-19
When we think of gluttony in those biblical terms as a master or our god, then you can see how big and bad a vice can become in our lives. What is vicious about gluttony is these pleasures begin to dominate all of life. In talking about greed, there was the phrase about “being possessed by our possessions.” Likewise, we can think of gluttony as being consumed by what we consume. This vice degrades us into being mere pleasure seekers. That is what gluttony is all about.
Morgan Spurlock who currently has a weekly documentary show on CNN Inside Man did movie several years back called Super Size Me! This filmmaker and star of his own movie decided that he would to eat nothing but McDonald’s food for thirty days. That’s right: for three meals a day—breakfast, lunch and dinner—everything he ate would have to come from old Ronald McDonald’s kitchen. Part of the stipulation was that during this month he would eat everything on the menu at least once. He could order a salad, just not every time. If he were ever asked if he wanted to “Supersize” the meal, he would respond yes. During that month, Spurlock also gives up walking to work and travels purely by car.
The slim and active man who is also a vegan, has quite an adjustment adapting to the McDiet. Just two days into the challenge Spurlock hits the McWall. He orders a double quarter-pounder with cheese and to go with it about a pound worth of fries and 42 oz. coke. He sits in his car and begins to sweat. He gets what he calls the McGurgles in his stomach and soon loses his lunch on the parking lot.
After just five days, the once lean man has picked up 9 ½ pounds. By the end of the challenge it is 25 lbs. in all. His cholesterol climbs to 230, and he begins to have heart palpitation. A doctor monitors him along the way and tells him that he is concerned about his liver functioning.
Within a month this man starts to shows signs of an addict. Between meals he frequently has feelings of depression, moodiness and frequent headaches and lethargy. On the one hand, this is stunning to see and on the other hand, you can be surprised at what a McDiet would do to your body. Even within a month we see that low grad beef with the mayonnaise based special sauce, milk shakes and fries is not going to make you feel all that well. The movie is an extreme demonstration of the old saying, “you are what you eat.” A compelling example that if you want to be healthy, and then you have to eat healthy. The sad thing is that many Americans have a diet very similar to this man’s experiment. An experiment that shows how addictive and destructive gluttony can be.
This is an extreme example of what can happen to a human being when our stomachs run the show. This also seems to be a depiction of an obvious example of gluttony.
Drawing from the historical tradition, Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung covers 5 forms of glutton in her book Glittering Vices. They fit into the acronym FRESH.
Fastidiously– Being a food snob (a coffee, beer, wine, cheese, meat, organic, etc.) You only will eat the best or a particular. You are a picky eater in the refined sense of the word. Can you thank God for your food when you get the wrong order?
Ravenously—Eating too quickly. Like a shop-vac, you suck down everything around you. What is your hurry? You don’t have a whole lot of time to taste and savor what you are eating.
Excessively—Eating too much and perhaps too often.
Sumptuously—Eating to feel full. Do you feel like an empty person without a full stomach? How often do we go to the kitchen to find something to eat when we feel bored and restless (and maybe not even hungry)?
Hastily— Eating greedily. The greedy eater is also the kind of person that I think of at the all you can eat buffet. Taking one whole plate just for the fried perch and piling up the second plate with other things. Taking 2+ helpings to prevent disappointment of returning later to find nothing left. Kids are often guilty of acting this way, so are grown-ups who unfortunately look like little kids.
There are many avenues of gluttony and each ultimately leads to a destination of dissatisfaction. This is the case for a couple reasons. First, bodily cravings are always temporarily satisfied. We will always get hungry again. Second as human beings, yes, we are physical, but there is more to us than that. Satisfying our pleasure of eating (and every other pleasure for that matter) doesn’t fill up the whole person. Gluttony isn’t only a food issue. People in church will sometimes say of a sermon or a service, “I wasn’t fed today.” Could this sometimes be an issue of gluttony?
Along comes Jesus and it is not accidental that he speaks the way that he does it John 6. He comes in the midst of messed up, gluttonous human beings and speaks to our needs. You are hungry. I am the bread of life. He speaks to the disciples in verse 32-34;“Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”“Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” (You get the sense they are thinking of physical food)
Jesus then speaks on of the I am statements of the gospel of John; “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. As often the case with Jesus, he speaks to and addresses real human needs. In doing so shows that there is something deeper at stake. For the disciples they may be fed with bread and fish, but there is a deep hunger inside them that needs satisfaction. Perhaps the same hunger we feel today. A hunger we can try and fill in any number of ways. “I will satisfy your deepest hunger”. That is the promise of Jesus. Elsewhere in John 10:10 he says, “I have come to give you life to the fullest measure.”
The next time you find yourself going to the kitchen for a snack, it is worth asking, am I really hungry right now or is there another dissatisfaction going on right now? What can the hunger of our stomach tell us about the habits of our heart?