At the Lutheran church I attended during my childhood, comic strips from the local newspaper were posted on a bulletin board. One in particular I remember was Hägar the Horrible sitting at a table with his first mate Lucky Eddie. They had the following conversation...
Eddie: “Is gluttony a sin?”
Hägar “Is it fun?”
Eddie: “I think so.”
Hägar: “It’s a sin.”
Of course, God is not against us having fun. 1 Timothy 6:17 says He “...gives us richly all things to enjoy.” That would include food. But like most other things, eating can be abused when done in excess. Scripture has a few things to say about those who eat too much...
“So that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah (which means ‘graves of gluttony’) because there they buried the people who had craved meat from Egypt.” - Numbers 11:34 (NLT)
“But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; You grew fat, you grew thick, you are obese! Then he forsook God who made him, and scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.” - Deuteronomy 32:15
“Do not mix with winebibbers, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat. For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.” - Proverbs 23:20-21
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.” - Philippians 3:18-19
We’ve all probably heard preaching against smoking and drinking. I heard one Christian comedian point out how some preachers put down men with long hair and yet they themselves have a weight problem. When was the last time you heard a sermon on gluttony?
I have friends who would be considered “fat.” Therefore, my intent with this article is not to bring condemnation but to remind everyone the importance of taking care of our bodies. 1 Corinthians 3:17 in the New Living Translation says, “God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” Verses 19 and 20 from Chapter 6 goes on to say, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
One web site for skeptics has a page titled “What the Bible says about Fat People” in an attempt to point out contradictions in Scripture. The King James Version’s use of the word “fat” doesn’t always refer to overweight people. Sometimes it describes God’s blessing. For example, Proverbs 13:4 (KJV) says, “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” The New King James Version renders the second part of that verse, “...the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”
God’s word does not contradict when rightly divided. Luke 15:23 mentions killing a fatted calf to celebrate the prodigal son’s return. On the other hand, Leviticus 3:17 and 7:23 commands us not to eat the fat itself.
Organizations such as the American Medical Association have labelled obesity a disease. I disagree with this assertion. More people today willingly eat too much of the wrong types of food plus don’t get enough exercise. I’ve been guilty of this and have put on extra pounds when I sat around too much working on my computer. One thing that helps me keep the weight down is going for prayer walks (during which I often evangelize). Fasting also helps the body eliminate unnecessary fat and toxins.
By the grace of God, all of us can exercise self-control and enjoy the fat of the land (Genesis 45:18) without being fat ourselves.
“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” - 1 Corinthians 9:27