Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Gluttony of the 7 Deadly Sins part 3

Well if it is a sin, then how is it cured, what is the anecdote to this horrible life taking sin? In many of the sermons, books I read, they really didn’t have an answer, I was disappointed. In his book on Sinning like a Christian this is what Will Willimon says, Disgust is our only means of keeping Gluttony at bay, uh, how is that an answer. Most people I know who are overweight are disgusted, Will with how they look and what their overeating has done to them. I think Will has never really had to deal with this problem in his life.

It is not just dieting, there is only a 20 per cent cure rate of those who really retain their weight loss, and stay gluttony free. Look at one of the most famous, who we have watched on tv go up and down, Oprah Winfrey, She has lost over all 20,000 pounds, been on 674 diets, 255 exercise programs, weighed herself 4, 349, 571 times in her 30 year career. She went on a recent diet due to hypertension brought on by her eating and weight. She has lost a lot of weight by even then she has struggled to maintain. You see it is not so easy to cure and to maintain a cure. I can tell you myself having done the yo – yo thing for years. As of even recently I was on a diet, losing weight really doing well, when a stressor came into my life, and I turned to what food to deal with it. That one little turning, kept turning, until I put on what I had lost and more, I also turned away for consistent exercise, consistent healthy patterns, and consistent meditation and bible reading, until once again Gluttony became my God. I was hoping like so many others that by researching for this sermon, and writing it there would be something that would not just help me lose again, but would be the maintaining factor. But I know what that is, It goes back to what Overeater’s Anonymous says: it is to work the 12 steps, be part of a OA group, get a sponsor, become what they call abstinent, taking food off of its throne in your life, and putting God back on the throne of your life. In other words it is more than just dieting it also includes spiritual work. And when you read the Bible it has some of the answers.

In the book The 7 Sins of Highly Defective People Rick Ezell uses these action steps
1 Feeding- It sounds a little ridiculous to talk about feeding when someone is lost in the grips of the disease, but its not totally. If on the one hand it is like a feeding frenzy when you have given into gluttony, it is getting back to the basics of eating. The experts say we have lost the ability to know when we are actually hungry, what are hunger pangs, and when we are thirsty or what we are. So you have to go back to basics, and know what is actually hunger. He says the glutton needs to be fed by God, From Genesis to Revelation
God is portrayed as ta caring Father who feeds his people. Gen 2:9 the Garden of Eden was planed with trees that were pleasing to the ey and good for food. And then in Rev 22:2 the new Jerusalem is the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. What is it that we pray, Matt 6:11 Give us today our daily Bread. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights James 1:18 God feed us with the good things he has fed us, He also feeds us his very self; Jesus says in John 4:32; “I have food to eat that you know nothing about”, and in John 6:35 Jesus says I am the bread of life, he that cometh to me shall never hunger, In fact the celebration of communion is way of not just remember the last supper, but participating in the Eucharist and receiving what God has to feed us, his grace and mercy for our lives. That is part of why we serve communion every Wednesday night.

2. Feasting. Now some might think this gluttony, but it isn’t, Gluttony is self-indulgent, feasting is God honoring, keeps perspective and is a social act that enhances community by celebrating God’s blessings. It is part of the Christian faith. The people of Israel were always feasting, having celebrations of thanksgiving for what God had done, we are about to enter into the time of the feast of Passover, the celebration for God delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Remember Jesus liked a good celebration, went to many dinners. He was even accused of being a glutton and a drunkard in Matt 11:19, but he was not one was he. The Christian faith is a sociable one, it is one of getting together to celebrate God’s goodness and mercy in our lives, perhaps we have forgotten the part of celebrating God’s goodness and mercy, and perhaps we have forgotten how to feast and not be a glutton. Perhaps the church can provide the place for feasting and not gluttony. Perhaps we need to include the attitude of gratitude as a way of battling gluttony.

Fasting. I know I know, I don’t do fasting from food very good. I have found I can fast from tv and the computer. Maybe then I can turn what I have been able to do with my media fast to a healthy food fast. Not dieting though, that is a modern way of dealing with it, but a more biblical way is fasting. Fasting is mentioned more times in scripture than Baptism. Jesus talks about the way to fast in Matthew 6:16.
It is defined as a voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purpose remember Jesus fasted, it is not a crash diet, but abstinence from food for spiritual purposes, And what more spiritual purpose is there than to rid yourself of a sin, the sin of gluttony. Jesus said in Matt 5:6, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. “A glutton is one who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.” -Frederick Buechner. So instead of eating to eat and eat and eat, you are fasting for spiritual food. Fasting keeps us alive to what Jesus knew “My food is do the will of him who sent me. John 4:34.
Why even that great Country Western singer, movie star Dolly Parton fasts. In a interview with People magazine she credits her family and her faith for her character. She says “I quote the Bible real good!” She will turn to the bible and fasting not to diet but for spiritual reasons, and for making major decisions, “I’ll either fast 7, 14,or 21 days, I don’t tell anyone either when I am fasting.
When we fast we can find the will God, the contours of our souls, who we really are before God, and find the true God, not the God of Food.

Finally Focusing: Paul wrote in Phil 3:20-21 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Our focus needs to be on heavenly things not on earthly things, not on what feeds the stomach, but on what nourishes the soul, not on the negative, but on the positive and not on what will deform but on what will transforms our bodies. Paul also wrote in Phillipians 4:8 8Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. The object of our focus needs to be God and not food, and by doing so, we allow God to be at work in us instead of being a servant to food.
But there is one final aspect of this and that is self control, not will power, but self control. How do we get self control? We don’t get it on our own, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which comes from our opening ourselves to God, and letting go of our control, and letting God have control through the holy spirit. You and I can do all the actions that Ezell suggest, but it will be just like dieting and trying to control ourselves if we don’t let God have control of our lives. To defeat the sin of gluttony takes our work, the support of the church and the work of the Holy Spirit in us. It is not the Holy Spirit that makes us do things, like Gluttony will often make you over eat, it enables us to control ourselves. We are no longer driven by the sin, but by the power of the holy spirit in us. It enables us to do what would honor Christ the most and what would glorify God in our lives, and what would be a witness for God in our lives, It is self caring, not self defeating, it is encouraging not putting one down. And if you have been in the throes of gluttony you know that it is self defeating and shaming. It provides protection and grants freedom. 2tim1:7 says God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power of love and of self discipline (or control). Gal 5:16 says it this way Let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature. You see it is inviting and letting God be your God, and Lord of your life. And frankly having studied this and written this I realize that I quit letting God be the Lord of my life, and put me and food back on the throne. And if I am to defeat gluttony in my life it will be through the spiritual disciplines with the power of the holy spirit with God being the Lord of my life.
A young boy was helping his father bring in some wood for the fire, and he was struggling under the weight of a heavy load of wood, “Why don’t you use all of your strength?” The father asked. “I am” the boy responded, feeling dejected. “No you are not,” declared the father. “ You have not asked me to help you.” The father reached down and lifted both the boy and lad in his arms and together they carried that heavy load of wood.
If you are struggling with the sin of gluttony or any of the other 7 deadly sins, pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, and lust, why don’t you ask the Lord our father to help you carry the load, and give him the burden of your sin. Because when we ask and when we give the Lord our burdens, he will sustain us.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly what I have been doing
I mean I make a resolution to do what is right, and exert self control and then I fail and am ashamed because I am a lazy glutton, when what I really want to do is honor God with my life.
So I have been crying out to him for help.
I think sometimes we can become so entrenched in our sin it takes God to lift us out.
I loved when the father reached down and lifted both the boy and the load. I needed that.

5:05 PM  

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