Recognizing the Causes of Over-Indulgence

**Published in The Christian Online Magazine June issue**

Column: Temple Maintenance by Rebecca Aarup

Recognizing the Causes of Over-Indulgence

Anyone who has had any experience with lawn maintenance or gardening knows how obnoxious ugly weeds can be. One way or another they have to be dealt with; weed poison or elbow grease. The same is true for believers. We want to be changed instantly; read a verse and do what it says without effort. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy; there is work required. God has made us His gardens of fruit bearing, yet we sometimes lose our crops to weeds. Here are some ways you can recognize a weed problem in your own garden.

Weed #1: It’s my body so I can eat however much I want, whenever I want.

The Bible is emphatic on how we should view this lie. Paul tells us, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) Once you recognize your need to self-gratify is directly contradicted to the word of God you can repent of your belief and begin to live as one who knows their worth in God’s eyes.

Weed #2: God doesn’t care about what I eat.

Get ready to grab your weed poison and spray it: “Do not join those…who gorge themselves on meat, for… gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rage.” (Prov. 23:20-21) I’m fairly certain that God does care about what we eat, and how much, otherwise he wouldn’t have chosen to warn us about the consequences. Our loving Father does not wish that we would suffer out of our own ignorance, so He gives us helpful guidelines in His word.

Weed #3: Food makes me happy/Food is a pleasurable reward.

Get your shovel because Jesus tells us all about how to be satisfied and it has nothing to do with food. “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4)

If our joy is coming from the Fountain of Living Water, why do we need a counterfeit as silly as food? When we recognize our value as God’s beloved children, we have perfect peace that sets us free to eat in moderation and not use rewards as an excuse to over-indulge.

Weed #4: I’ll start a diet when I have more time, I’m just too busy. (Procrastination)

Our friend James has some words about that. “Now listen you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city’…Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (Jms. 4:13-14, 17) When we know what to do and still refuse to do it we chose to ignore (grieve) the Holy Spirit.

Weed #5: The only way I can be healthy is to eliminate certain foods and buy health food that I can’t afford.*

“Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12)

Whether or not you feel convicted to avoid certain foods is between you and God. Let the Holy Spirit do His job and refuse to do it for Him. If you have experienced positive results from giving up something, by all means share it in a loving manner, but never assume it’s God’s will for
everyone.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment over your food choices. Common sense will usually reveal what is “beneficial” for our God given temples, and what we should do without.

Be assured you can eradicate weeds and grow healthy crops of self-control once again. Confess to the Lord your short-comings and receive His forgiveness. Obedience will clear your conscience before God and allow you to experience freedom from the guilt over-indulgence can bring. You’ll also be freed from diets once and for all!

*This is not meant to include people with food allergies or medical issues that require them to abstain from certain foods. Eating foods out of medical necessity is an entirely different issue this article does not intend to address.

(For an in-depth study of Biblical weight loss, see Thin Within: A Grace Oriented Approach to Lasting Weight Loss by Judy Halliday, R.N. and Arthur Halliday, M.D.)

Cravings

“How sweet your words taste to me, they are sweeter than honey.” Psalm 119:130 NLT

Cravings

What is the first thing you crave in the morning, your normal breakfast food fair? Do you crave cereal, toast, cinnamon rolls, donuts, or are you like me, stumbling and fumbling around hopelessly in search for your coffee?

When you see the word “craving”, you may think of a woman who is pregnant. The stereotypical ideal is that this woman craves pickles and ice cream at crazy hours of the night. (Not my experience, but who am I to judge?) Or perhaps we think of the dieter trying to avoid carbs and sugar at all costs. That poor soul, all they can think about is what they cannot have, which is everywhere on every street corner!

Sometimes you don’t realize you have a craving until the smell hits you. I know this has happened to me many times. I don’t even feel hungry until I step outside and someone somewhere is barbequing.

Mm mm

Now all of a sudden I am starving! In fact, I am fairly certain at this point I may come into physical harm and/or discomfort unless I fix my craving.

Can you imagine loving and craving the Word of God like you do your favorite food? It’s really sad that I even had to type that. The fact is we spend time and consume our lives in what we love. We seek these things out, we prioritize them. When we wake up in the morning, that thing is on our minds.

Work

Kids

Meetings

Ministries

Duties

People

Pleasures

Hobbies

Is God’s word the first thing we crave as we take our waking breath in the morning? Is his sustenance what we crave as the day unfolds before us? When we are bewildered and befuddled are we craving a word from our Savior, or a word from another person who can say what we want to hear but not necessarily what is best for us?

People get so fixated on their craving they may lack total self-control when it comes to food. Often times it is sweets, chocolate, candy and sugars that are the greatest downfalls. Yet the psalmist describes the Bible as being the sweetest thing he has ever tasted! So sweet he craved it over and over, he loved it, he was obsessed with every word of it, he couldn’t get enough of it, he couldn’t wait to dig into it, he couldn’t wait to discover more treasures in it. Now that is the healthiest craving a person could ever hope to have!

Feast on the sweetest sugar of all, the word of God, but never gain weight! His word is always perfect for us, satisfying, never too much, never more than enough. It is just right. There is no such thing as too much of this sweetness! Indulge yourself! You need not ever diet when you’re feasting on this truth!

Wake up, have your breakfast of truth, the real breakfast of champions. And make sure to balance that out with several “meals” throughout the day. You don’t want your spiritual metabolism getting too slow.

“Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come; buy wine and milk with no money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor for what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good and you will delight in the richest fare.” Isaiah 55:1-2 TNIV

Prayer

Jesus, as I start the day you have so mercifully blessed me with, I ask that you give me a new desire for your word. Plant in me a deep craving for the only bread that doesn’t cost money yet satisfies the deepest longing of my heart like no other. Every day I eat food to satisfy my physical needs, I eat consistent meals to stay healthy, yet I neglect to stay consistent in your word. Give me consistency and balance throughout the day, so my spiritual life will be healthy and radiate your truth.