Gluttony—Why Avoid It?
“LET us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.” That was the way some people felt about life, as indicated by the apostle Paul. But does man live to eat or eat to live? Those of whom Paul spoke evidently concluded that they lived to eat and drink. (1 Cor. 15:32) However, they were wrong.
True, Jehovah created mankind with the ability to eat. For this reason, God made provision to satisfy man’s need for food, and told the first man, Adam: “You may eat to satisfaction.”—Gen. 2:8, 9, 16.
Yes, man was to “eat to satisfaction.” This would be good for his organism and would enable him to serve well the purpose for which he was created. That is why the wise man said of sinful mankind: “I myself commended rejoicing, because mankind have nothing better under the sun [aside from serving God’s purpose] than to eat and drink and rejoice, and that it should accompany them in their hard work for the days of their life.”—Eccl. 8:15.
WHAT IS GLUTTONY?
The abundant food that God supplied was to serve this purpose. Food was not to be wasted, for wastefulness would show lack of appreciation for this provision. But customarily eating too much would also betray a lack of proper gratitude. That is why gluttony must be avoided.
But what is gluttony? Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language (Second Edition) defines “gluttony” as “excess in eating; extravagant indulgence of the appetite; voraciousness.” It describes a glutton as “one who eats voraciously, or to excess; a gormandizer; one who gluts himself in any way.”
GLUTTONY CONDEMNED BY GOD
In his law to ancient Israel, Jehovah God showed how strongly he felt about the matter of gluttony. He commanded parents to take an incorrigibly stubborn and rebellious son to the city elders and inform them: “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he is not listening to our voice, being a glutton and a drunkard.” Notice the characteristics associated with a glutton. His being stubborn and rebellious certainly brings shame to his parents, humiliating them in the eyes of others.—Deut. 21:18-21; compare Proverbs 28:7.
The Provider’s purpose is for all to enjoy good food. Yet, if an individual greedily tried to consume everything voraciously, he would not be showing consideration and love for others. And since “God is love,” this would run counter to the Creator’s qualities.—1 John 4:8.
WHY AVOID IT
Gluttony is condemned by God, and it does not harmonize with the divine quality of love. Overeating cannot bring true satisfaction or happiness to the glutton himself. Those factors alone should prompt the thoughtful person to avoid gluttony. But there are other reasons to shun it.
A glutton, being greedy, deprives others of their share of the good things that Jehovah provides for all to enjoy. At a meal, the gluttonous person may make it impossible for other diners to eat to satisfaction. For this reason, the glutton may eventually be despised. Yes, by yielding to selfish craving, he actually isolates himself from others. Because of his greedy ways, they may shun him. So, if a person values the respect and association of other individuals, he will avoid gluttony. Failure to do this would be detrimental to him from a personal standpoint.
Since Jehovah God created the human body with the proper capacity for food, any excess is bound to affect us adversely. This is recognized in medical circles today. Thus the Illustrated Medical and Health Encyclopedia noted that overeating could contribute to overweight, which “has long been recognized as a contributory factor in many diseases, especially among the aged and aging.”
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, knew the bad physical effects of overeating. That is why, in warning his disciples, he said: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking.” (Luke 21:34) Such a condition will affect the person’s mind and heart, making him lazy, drowsy and careless. In this state, he will be dull respecting the will of Jehovah and may be very negligent in discharging responsibilities toward him. Unless the individual corrects his course, he may incur God’s displeasure and lose his life.
People in Noah’s day before the flood gave themselves over to eating, drinking and pleasure-seeking to such an extent that they paid no heed to the warning of impending destruction, as sounded by Noah and his family. In effect, the people lived to eat and drink. As a result, they lost their lives.—Matt. 24:37-39.
In the days of the apostles of Jesus Christ, it appears that some gave themselves up to overindulgence. Hence, when Paul instructed Timothy and Titus as to who should serve in responsible positions within the Christian congregation, he warned against appointing greedy persons and specified that those selected should be “moderate in habits.” (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9) Obviously, this would exclude gluttons. Such “greedy persons” will not inherit God’s kingdom.—1 Cor. 6:9, 10.
ADDITIONAL REASON TO AVOID IT
In loving counsel, Jehovah says: “Do not come to be among heavy drinkers of wine, among those who are gluttonous eaters of flesh. For a drunkard and a glutton will come to poverty.” (Prov. 23:20, 21) If we do not want to come to spiritual poverty, yes, and maybe even to material poverty, we will do well to heed these words and avoid gluttony.
In this time, when the majority of mankind have defied God’s laws and have rebelled against everything decent, all lovers of life who want to win divine approval need to pay attention to the inspired counsel of the apostle Peter, who said: “The time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches.” (1 Pet. 4:3) So, what must we do now? Well, as Paul put matters, “the night is well along; the day has drawn near. . . . As in the daytime let us walk decently, not in revelries and drunken bouts . . . But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not be planning ahead [selfishly, and perhaps gluttonously] for the desires of the flesh.”—Rom. 13:12-14.
As we have noted, gluttony does not show appreciation for God’s loving provision of food for mankind to eat to satisfaction. Nor does it show love for God and for one’s fellowman. Moreover, it is detrimental to a person’s own well-being and happiness. Therefore, it is the course of practical wisdom to avoid gluttony.
True, if an individual has made it a practice to overeat, real effort will be required to ‘push himself away from the table’ so as to avoid overindulgence. But, in view of the Bible’s condemnation of gluttony and the fact that gluttons will not inherit God’s kingdom, this is something to consider in all seriousness. Earnest prayer may be required to overcome inclinations to overeat. Yes, a person will need to pray for God’s spirit and for Jehovah’s aid in cultivating its fruits, which include self-control. (Luke 11:13; Gal. 5:22, 23) But avoiding gluttony is that important, and Jehovah will help those earnestly seeking his aid in this regard.
Today, because of greed on the part of many of mankind, others do not have enough food to eat to satisfaction. As a result, some curse God, contending that he makes life very hard for them. Jehovah is the great Food Provider, and he expects that provision to be used with proper respect and appreciation.
In the near future, God, through Jesus Christ and his kingdom, will bring law-defying gluttons to an end. Then persons who have heeded Jehovah’s loving counsel and have not had companionship with gluttons will hunger no more. They will enjoy the complete fulfillment of the inspired words: “He [Jehovah] has satisfied the dried-out soul; and the hungry soul he has filled with good things.”—Ps. 107:9.