Summary: As Christians, we are invited to have a spiritual perspective on life. Gluttony demonstrates our focus on the physical.
Philippians 3:7-21 “Everything Looks So Good” (Gluttony)
This is an uncomfortable topic for a sermon. Not only for me, but for many people who are listening to this sermon. Food is a touchy subject. I have struggled with weight and with unhealthy eating practices for years. Many have had this same struggle. Most of us don’t want to step on a scale, and only a brave few would be willing to have the variety and amount of their food intake reviewed by others.
One of the concepts that I have learned over the years of dieting and of gaining or losing weight is that the cause for overeating—gluttony—goes deeper than an over abundance of food. There are many factors that contribute to gluttony (or indulgence) and our battle of the bulge.
THE TABLES ARE TURNED
One of the reasons that we overindulge is that we can. We value and enjoy our freedom. Also, we accept as true the idea that if we exercise our freedom without limits that we will enjoy life more than if we place boundaries on ourselves. All too few people subscribe to the belief that nursing one drink through the night is as enjoyable as getting a little buzzed or even plastered. And who among us would admit to believing that savoring just one Lays Potato Chip is as fulfilling as devouring the entire bag?
We overindulge because it feels good. When we full feels we feel better than when we feel hungry. Food and countless other items in creation give us pleasure and enjoyment. As human beings, many of us believe that the good life comes from experiencing all that life has to offer and enjoying it.
Food is a comfort is a comfort for us. If you have had a bad day, then drown your sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Chocolate is the most used anti-stress agent in the United States, and if a relationship is starting to fray, there’s nothing like a Family Sized Bag of Potato Chips.
Some of us get to the point where we eat and indulge ourselves because we can’t stop; we are addicted. We started out celebrating our freedom and ended up being entrapped. That which we originally thought would give us pleasure now only gives us pain.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul talks about some people who are in their fellowship. These people, though they may identify themselves as Christians are not motivated by the things of God. These people suffer from a type of duel citizenship. They are members of God’s family, but they focus totally on the physical.
Paul says that their god is their stomach. Martin Luther once stated that a god is anything that we place our trust and hope in. In other words, Paul is intimating that they are their own god. Appeasing their desires is their primary motivation in life.
Paul continues by saying that their mind is on worldly matters. All these people can think about is earthly, physically stuff. They get up from the lunch table and ask what’s for dinner. When they hear about green pastures they think about fairways, still waters cause them to envision fishing ponds, and fields white unto harvest equate with shopping malls.
The affluent, comfortable, indulgent life is substituted for the abundant life that God offers to them through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They settle for the good instead of the best.
THE VIRTUE OF TEMPERANCE
Temperance, the ability to enjoy things is controlled quantity, is the virtue that replaces gluttony and indulgence. Temperance doesn’t stem from developing a super will power that is able to withstand physical temptations. Temperance grows in our life as we live in the new life—the abundant life—that is ours in Jesus.
Temperance gives us the ability to exercise our freedom by saying, “Yes,” to Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
We find enjoyment in doing God’s will, and of acting out our purpose in life.
God’s love, forgiveness, presence and power give us comfort and strength. We are able to face the challenges that confront us with faith and hope because of our relationship with God.
Because of Jesus, we are set free. It may not be easy, but we can say “No,” and turn away from our addictions, and we can experience true freedom.
Paul writes to the Christians in Galatia, “Christ has set you free, stand fast therefore in your freedom and do not submit to the slavery. Freedom comes from realizing that we are disciples of Jesus Christ, that our purpose in life is to serve God, and that part of the abundant life that we have in Christ is not indulgence but temperance.