This post last updated on November 12th, 2021
Gluttony is probably the one post so far in the series on the 7 deadly sins that’s really close to home. Not because I’m overweight, or because I lounge around a table gorging myself, but because I have a tendency for more. Maybe you can relate…
Making Gluttony Tolerable
Here’s what I discovered about gluttony. It’s an old-fashioned word that’s usually glossed over as an obsolete idea.
In other words, it’s something we may hear from the pulpit on Sunday morning, but not a topic we engage one another in around the water cooler.
The tendency then has become to take the word and the idea of gluttony, antiquate it, and consider it a tolerable sin. In fact, the Catholic Encyclopedia says, “Gluttony is in general a venial sin.” That means it’s a small sin that won’t endanger your soul.
Kinda like a “white lie” I suppose. Except where I come from, lesser evils are still evil and smaller sins are still sinful.
Or maybe it’s a little bit like the Christian who rails against anyone having a beer but doesn’t see the problem in loading up a few 5 pound portions in the potluck line.
What Gluttony Is Not
Something else that happens with gluttony is our tendency to equate it with obesity. Let me be very clear about this point: just because someone is overweight does not make them gluttonous, and not everyone who is gluttonous is obese.
This mistake about gluttony is made because we think it only applies to eating and drinking. The truth is, from a spiritual standpoint, any desire that’s consumed in excess is gluttonous.
And I don’t know about you, but my propensity for more, if left unchecked, can reveal my gluttonous nature well beyond my plate and fork.
It reveals itself in my reading, where I tune the world out and can’t be reached. Or in my writing, when the importance of publishing “on time” becomes more crucial than spending time with people. That usually happens because I was gluttonous with my time in some other area prior to my writing schedule. Like binge watching something.
No, gluttony is not just about the dinner table. Our flesh and our spirits can always find something to excessively consume.
The Dangers of Gluttony
You know, I’ve discovered that the most dangerous part of gluttony isn’t sitting down and pigging out on an entire pepperoni pizza. Although your cardiologist might not like that, not to mention the potential dismay of your Levis.
The real danger with this sin is that it reveals idolatry. The things that we’re devouring in excess, whether it’s entertainment, video games, sex, or food are the things that will ultimately keep us away from consuming God’s word and from our time at communing at His table in prayer.
And generally speaking, when you and I allow one area of our lives to be out of control, we usually see that show up in other areas as well.
The folks over at GotQuestions.org say that even better: “If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to control other habits, such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, anger) and unable to keep our mouths from gossip or strife.”
You can replace the words “eating habits” in that quote with just about anything.
The Prescription Against Gluttony
Let’s be honest, since the sin of gluttony goes far beyond the physical, we’re all in danger. Here are some practical ways to overcome this sin.
- Don’t try to eliminate the things you enjoy, as long as they’re not deadly. Instead, focus on being deliberate about proportioning those things.
- Focus on Christ. I’ll keep saying it, the best remedy for this sin or any other is more Jesus. That’s because a heart and a mind that is engaged with Christ is healthier and less prone to succumb to the junk that derails us.
- Invest your time in prayer. That’s the fuel to power the above point.
- Stay in the Word. That would be the way to govern the areas of your life that tend to become gluttonous.