One of the major problems in the Western World today is obesity. In fact, some experts believe that obesity is the cause of more bad health than smoking. (See: What are the health risks of obesity?) The quality of food the average US citizen eats is also a determining factor. The “food” fast food chains sell, the two bit foods on their dollar menus, and the processed foods in grocery stores are slowly poisoning our society. (See: Nine reasons to never eat processed foods again.)
What does God have to say about all this?
We are warned in Scripture to avoid certain behaviors (1 Cor 10:6-11). One of these behaviors is gluttony.
After the Children of Israel came out of Egypt they did a lot of complaining against God, and a lot of talking about how the Egyptians took better care of them than God seemed, in their minds, to be doing. In Numbers 11 we find the story of one such occasion. They were whining about not having enough meat, so God was going to give it to them – more than they could possibly eat in fact (Num 11:18-20). But the other part of the story was that God was also testing them to see if they got the point, or if they were going to follow through with their idolatrous covetousness. We find that many of them gorged themselves and thus brought God’s wrath down upon them. In fact the place became known as Kibtroth Hattaavah, translated literally – Graves of Craving (Num 11:31-34).
Move forward roughly 900 years to when some of the people of Judah were returning to Jerusalem after their Babylonian captivity and we find things hadn’t really changed that much. When the people inquired of God about fasting at certain times as they had done in the past, God asks them, “Were you really fasting for Me? When you eat and drink, do you really do so for Me? Don’t you really eat and drink for yourselves?” Apparently they were good at putting on a show with fasting and so forth, but not so good at obeying God (Zech 7:1-7).
In ancient Rome some of the Church members would not eat meat because a portion of it may have been offered to idols. Thus Paul says, “For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him” (Rom 14:2-3). While it may be taking the passage out of its literary context, I think it can still be appropriately applied to honoring God in what we eat where Paul says, “He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks” (Rom 14:6c).
This should raise certain serious questions in our minds.
- Are we really eating to the Lord if we are eating things we know are unhealthy? What is the difference between eating swine and eating a box of processed food with 47 ingredients that we can’t even pronounce? One can kill us with parasites and the other can kill us with cancer?
- Are we truly eating to the Lord if we know we are being gluttonous hogs when we eat? After all, gluttony is a compulsive behavior based upon unrestrained covetousness, and covetousness is idolatry (cf. Col 3:5).
- Are we truly honoring God in the way we eat if we just eat meat, and nothing or little else? We all know that a diet rich in meat, even Biblically clean meat, and poor in other important foods leads to heart disease and cancer, among other things.
- Can we really be honoring God with our diet if we consume all kinds of sugar when we know it causes diabetes, which brings on a host of other health problems?
So how can we honor God with the way we eat?
One section of Scripture we can look at is the Book of Daniel. Right off the bat we can see God bless Daniel for eating in a way that honored Him. Notice that, “… Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (Dan 1:8). We see two important and positive things happen because of Daniel’s dedication: 1 after eating veggies and drinking water for just ten days Daniel and his friends were much healthier than the other young men, and thus appeared healthier, and 2 God blessed them additionally with wisdom and understanding for their obedience (Dan 1:12-17). They got the first benefit of the blessing of good health for following God’s law, and then God blessed them additionally for having the guts to step up and do the right thing, and EAT the right things, in the face of being captives in a foreign land.
So there we have it… we can eat irresponsibly and get real fat and sick for not honoring God with the way we eat, OR we can reap blessings for honoring God with the way we eat.
Let’s honor God with the way we eat.
For additional Biblically based dietary information check out the following links…