Most Christians would agree that “all sin is equal in the sight of God” and that there is no scale of less or worse sins. Whether it’s a little white lie or a murder, we understand that it’s evil enough to require Christ to die on the cross in order to make peace between the sinner and a perfect God.
We accept this to be true in theory, but in practice we feel comfortable with the occasional white lie because we know it won’t have any “real” consequences for us to deal with.
Even though we don’t like to talk about it, there are some sins that have become perfectly acceptable to Christians. There’s one sin that’s been infiltrating our churches for so long and so quietly that we hardly give it a second thought. It’s the constant hunger for more over what is enough. An uglier word for it: gluttony.
Automatically when we see the word “gluttony” we think of overindulging on food, but gluttony has never been just an addiction to food. If we look at the word in its original context, gluttony hits close to home for most of us.
In the simplest terms, gluttony is the soul’s addiction to excess.
It occurs when taste overrides hunger, when want overrides need. In the U.S. where ‘super-sizing’ is a regular part of life, it’s difficult to distinguish between a genuine need and indulgent excess. Even when we have no desire to keep up with the proverbial “Joneses”, our normal is excess. In this sense, even the most athletic and toned among us can be gluttons.
All desire for excess stems from a lack of satisfaction. I’m not satisfied with what I have – whether it be the amount of food on our plates, the satisfaction we get from our relationships, the niceness of our cars and homes, or the amount of money sitting in our bank accounts. Because I’m not content with my portion, I need to seek a greater portion. But every portion is a small part of a limited whole, so I am constantly chasing an excess that will never satisfy me.
This is what we see in Genesis 3. What is the sin in the Garden of Eden if not the sin of gluttony? Adam and Eve were given beautiful sights and scrumptious tastes in a perfect garden, but what made the garden a paradise was not any of this. It was paradise because in the garden, God walked with them. Adam and Eve’s downfall was in the fact that they did not consider this to be enough. They weren’t content with their portion of paradise, and they reached out for more – resulting in disastrous consequences.
Like them, we are insatiable people. We embody bottomless cravings that constantly reach out for the next eye-catching thing. Proverbs 27:20 tells us that people will never stop wanting more than what they have. Our appetites are compared to death – people will never stop dying and they’ll never stop wanting more, bigger and better for themselves. We are always looking for the next thing that can satisfy us. This endless pull is the engine of gluttony, it constantly propels our souls towards excess.
And yet, the longing for “more” is not inherently bad, it’s usually just misdirected. What we need is an unquenchable appetite for the Lord. A holy hunger. Our craving souls can turn and become addicted to a relationship that is only found in an awesome God. He is the only one infinite source of satisfaction that can satisfy our never-ending desires.
A taste of the grace found in God is enough to satisfy an appetite long held prisoner to lesser portions.
In pursuit of these portions, our tastes have dulled. We have become numb to our real hungers, filling them with lesser delicacies. But when we return to the source, our taste becomes renewed.
Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! (Psalm 34:8a) The apostle Paul understood the meaning of this verse when he told the people of Lystra that God gives food and gladness so that our hearts would turn from vain things and turn to the ultimate satisfaction of who God is. (Acts 14:15-17)
So, if God has told us that his goodness can be tasted and seen, this has at least two direct implications: First, it means that every temporary pleasure in this world is meant to point us towards the infinite pleasure and satisfaction of God. My admiration of the ocean, then, does not need to stop when I get to the horizon, instead it can curve upward in praise and appreciation to the God who created it. Second, it means that if our desire for “more” can be misdirected, then it can certainly be redirected towards something good as well.
Is the desire for “more” sinful? It depends on whether the soul is addicted to temporary things or eternal things.
Do we ever think of “gorging” on God? Do we delight in the chance to spend a few more minutes in prayer, hidden away from the world for just one more taste of the divine? When is the last time that we lingered over the open pages of our Bible because we couldn’t bear to stop tasting the sweetness of the truths found there?
We Christians have so restrained our enjoyment in God that we cannot fathom what such thrill seeking would even look like. Feasting on God is as foreign to us as an empty stomach. We need to fix our souls on the only goodness that can handle our cravings and stop chasing the mild flavors of money, food, power, fame and physical relationships. If only we wouldn’t suppress our gluttonous cravings, but turn them in the right direction – we would have the opportunity to sit at the good table and feast to our hearts desire!
Please don’t waste your appetite on this world, it will never be able to satisfy you.