Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Handmaiden of the Lord, Post #6

A Handmaiden of the Lord is...

...not a glutton.

Yes - I'm actually going to write about gluttony; the avoided word that we all joke about. I've never in my life heard a sermon on gluttony, and I've heard very few people talk seriously about it, but it is mentioned in the Bible.

The fact is, the Bible talks about gluttony in the same breath as drunkenness, (Prov. 23:21, Deut. 21:20) and associates it with disobedience. (Deut. 21:20) In a series about self-control, how can we omit a post on gluttony? For that's really all gluttony is - an inability to control our fleshly appetites.

The opposite of gluttony is described by Jesus in Luke 12 :

22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

"The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment." How many times I have repeated that to myself! 'Specially when surveying my stuffed bedroom closet.

The idea of self-control is to have moderation (Phil.4:5) , and to determine my actions, not simply react to my situation instinctively - for human beings instinctively sin.

Jesus spoke often of denying the flesh, and Proverbs 23 mentions gluttony like this:

1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:
2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.

In context, these verses aren't forbidding fancy food - they are a warning to those who can't control their lust for riches. Appetite means more than just a hunger for food, you know.

I could have an appetite for filthy books or movies. Or an appetite for money. Or an appetite for excessive sports. Or excessive anything. And if I can't control that appetite, it's wrong.

That's it. If we can't control something, it has no business being in our lives, because we are to be "...Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every THOUGHT to the obedience of Christ," according to 2 Corinthians chapter 10.

But....since we're on the subject, it might be a wise thing to consider gluttony as it relates to food. How many of us hardly ever fast from food, because we enjoy our food too much?

My hand is up.

How many of us eat that scoop of dessert, not because we're hungry, but to satisfy our taste buds?

My hand is up.

How many of us could feed a family of four in India for an entire day on what we eat in one meal? I once read a book written by a Indian preacher who visited America, and I could hear the disgust in his voice as he wrote that the average American church-goer could feed a family in India for one day on just what they eat at one fellowship meal.

My Dad puts it this way; "Do you eat to live, or live to eat?"

I'm not saying we ought to become monks, and torture our bodies, but is your body subjected to you? ...Or is it the other way around? Can you tell it what to do, or do you comply with any and every demand it sends out?

Twice in my life, I've tried what I call "the Daniel Diet." Not "diet" as in the latest fad, but "diet" as in "this is what I'm eating." I went for a week without sugar, bread, pasta, condiments, sauces, etc. Just water, fruit, veggies, eggs, honey, and oats. That was it.

Why? To see if I could do it. To tell my body who is boss.

Fasting is a very Biblical thing to do. I have fasted when a prayer request burdened my heart excessively, but I have also fasted just to remind my body that "life is more that meat." I believe both types of fasting have a spiritual benefit.

Today, after a talk with some of my family last night about this topic, some of my siblings and I decided to go for 1 day consuming just liquids. And so far we've done it - despite the fact that pizza is on the lunch menu. :)

Food isn't the only thing I've fasted from. Several years ago, I had a fascination with novels. Not a mild interest, and not a healthy love for a story, but a ravenous, read-four-350pg.-books-in-one-night-even-if-it-takes-me-'til-midnight-and-I-have-to-hide-my-lamplight-from-Mom-and-Dad type of fascination. The books I were reading were almost all written by Christian authors, and they weren't books I would have hidden from my parents, but the time I spent on them was the problem.

One Sunday during a service, God convicted me of disobeying His command to "redeem the time, because the days are evil," and I made a commitment to Him that I would go without novels for one year.

I kept a journal devoted specifically to that adventure in my life, and reading it even now brings back all those emotions so vividly. Those were terribly hard months. I was literally breaking an addiction, and I had "with-drawl symptoms." I had emotional upheavals, and sometime I would lay on my bed and cry because I had to struggle so hard to maintain control of what books I was reading.

But I made it. What's more, that year broke the hold novels had on me. And it also gave me a huge increase in my love for God's Word.

The benefits of self-control are eternal, and so huge that I can't possibly write about them adequately. I know I need to increase control of my appetites in many areas still...but I know it is possible to control anything with the help of the Holy Spirit. Nothing is beyond His control. So I take courage.

...For now, I must get back to work, because I sit surrounded by stacks of clothing. I've been weeding through my closet this morning, and I'm pleased to say it's much thinner than it was, but I have a lot more work to do still.

So off I go!

Rules for Participation:

Each of you ladies - old and young - who read this blog have insight that you can contribute for the edification of the rest of us. Particularly those of you who are older in the faith...but even younger sisters can have words of wisdom. I would like to humbly request your active involvement in this series.

In the comment section of each post, I would like each of you to do one of two things;

~ 1: If you do not have a blog, please leave your thoughts directly in the comment section.

~ 2: If you have a blog, please go there and write a small post containing your thoughts on whatever quality is under discussion here. Make it Biblical; share verses the Lord has used in your heart. The world is full of opinions - we don't need more of that. We need more of the Lord.

Then come back here and leave a link to your post in the comment section. (To make it easier for us to find the right post, please link directly to the post, not your front page.) If you would like to, please direct your blog readers here so that they can find more discussion, from other readers.

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