Can you list off the “seven deadly sins,” a traditional list of cardinal sins put together by the early Church? Pride, lust – those are easy. Don’t forget wrath, greed, and envy. There’s also sloth, and last of all, gluttony.
A couple of those are easy to forget about or ignore, aren’t they?
In “Confessions of an Obese Christian,” Thom Rainer admits to his own struggle with gluttony and sloth, two factors which have led to obesity in his adult life.
“I am a meat and potatoes guy. I really don’t like any green food unless it is lime sherbet. I have eaten poorly. I have eaten too much. And I have exercised too little. My obesity is but one indicator of the bad choices I have made with food and exercise.”
What brought him to a point of conviction, he writes, was his struggle to interact energetically with his grandchildren.
“About two months ago I was playing with one of my grandchildren. I was exhausted. I had no reason to be so tired. Well I did have one reason. I am obese. My lack of energy was the result of my terrible lifestyle. So I looked into the eyes of my grandchild. I wondered if I would be able to keep up with all of my grandchildren. Indeed I wondered if I would live to see them grow up.
I needed help. I needed God’s strength. So I made a decision then that my life had to change. Not with a fad diet. Not with a flurry-and-done exercise regime. But with prayer, obedience, and a reasonable diet and lifestyle.”
As a Christian leader looked up to by many, Rainer admits that it is his duty to set an example to his friends and followers in this area – one unfortunately ignored and neglected by so many.
On Christianity.com, Pastor Joe McKeever wrote an article entitled “5 Reasons Why Pastors Don't Preach on Gluttony,” exploring this topic. Pastors stay away from gluttony because our hypocrisy is obvious, he writes. The subject is elusive, there are few Scriptures dealing explicitly with gluttony, and we have weak conviction. Additionally, pastors aren’t always sure what remedy to give for the sin of gluttony.
“We pastors want to give specific remedies for the great problems of mankind. The remedy for sin is the cross, the remedy for pride is humility, for envy, love.
But what is the remedy for overeating—salvation? Being filled with the Spirit? Love? Prayer? A diet plan? Shopping at Whole Foods?
Avoiding certain friends?
The people in the pews want more from us than a simple ‘Don’t overeat.’
And, since the problems facing members of our congregation are numerous, it’s easy to abandon thoughts of such sermons and move along to more manageable topics such as materialism, stewardship, or prayer.”
While McKeever and Rainer give encouraging, convicting words in the areas of gluttony and sloth, iBelieve contributor Rachel Marie Stone tackles the flip side of the obesity epidemic. She reminds us that, in many cases, poverty and limited resources play a large part in America’s struggle with obesity.
“Some of the cheapest calories in the supermarket are actually the most unhealthy, fattening, and sugary foods,” she shares, exhorting Christians to remember that people in urban food deserts, single mothers struggling to pay bills, and the general working poor are far more prone to face obstacles in their journey to a healthy lifestyle.
These two testimonies leave Christians many things to chew on. How are we stewarding our time and resources? Have we been guilty of the sins of gluttony or sloth? Have we looked on our less fortunate brothers and sisters with mercy, as they struggle with physical consequences of poverty? How can we better funnel our resources to live healthier lives, and help those around us do the same?
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com
Publication date: January 7, 2014