November 22, 2016

Sugar and Self-control

Before our weekly group Bible study begins, dessert and coffee are served. My heart races with caffeine so no coffee. My body gets round with too much food so no dessert. The person who brings the sweets seems offended. One person told me I made them feel guilty for not eating dessert.

A few weeks ago, God used this verse to speak to me about food:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:31–33)

Chambers calls this business of eating and drinking the “shallow concerns of life” and to beware of thinking such things are not ordained of God because they are. While he warns against being a spiritual prig that tries to impress others by not being shallow, the context of these verses has more depth. It is about offending people by refusing to eat anything that had been offered to idols, and when a Christian actually should refuse such food. The verses before it say:
If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? (1 Corinthians 10:27–30)
The command to eat and drink to the glory of God is first about respect for the conscience of others. If the food is offered by unbelievers, eat it without questioning its source. If they tell you it has been offered to idols, don’t eat it. It isn’t that God forbids it, but those who eat will be acting against the conscience of their host — a person who thinks they should not eat it.

For me, eating and drinking are not ‘shallow concerns of life’ but important also to my health. It seems to me that putting too much focus on them can be just as problematic as considering it nothing to have two pieces of pie a day. I want to serve the Lord and glorify Him. Being a care-less glutton does not do that, nor does being a picky person who refuses things out of pickiness.

However, the word God spoke to me using these verses and others that were not about drinking and eating, but that my body belongs to Him. I am a temple of the Holy Spirit and I’m to think that way concerning both food and beverage. That is, stuff that is known to be harmful does not belong in God’s temple. Just as Jesus tossed out the money-changers, I’m to be willing to refrain if He says NO. Obviously He will tell me what to do, but it means listening carefully.

I’ve observed that over-indulgence is a slippery slope, one that is easily justified, but difficult to get off. I’ve also observed that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit so if it is not present when the goodies are passed out (and when I am already full from eating supper), then the Spirit is not in charge of this temple. If He has not filled me, I will be a useless participant in the Bible study and prayer or whatever else might come next.

Eating and drinking to satisfy me is contrary to doing either one ‘to the glory of God.’ Also I’d rather be a conviction to others for saying ‘no thanks’ than set a bad example by giving in to that continual temptation of self indulgence.

1 comment:

Darrell said...

"Sweets" are served at our weekly small group/Bible study. It is an area I constantly struggle with. I will definitely keep your words of devotion in mind. Thanks so much for your daily Utmost encouragement!

Dear Lord, the stuff of everyday life (eating, drinking, doing things, my interacions with others, etc.) where I have to exercise my commonsense judgments as a Christian during the course of my everyday activities are a huge part of my Christian life (the majority). At times I forget that and think that when I am doing “ministry” or on a direct mission you have called me to, that, that is the essence of my Christian walk. Help me to see that You are just as much concerned about how I walk before You during the course of my everyday existence (as I exercise my commonsence) as You are about my walking before You in answer to those special moments where I can sense Your leading to be about “your business” in a specific way.” In Jesus Name, Amen