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Gluttony vs Wisdom
When I started preparing for this series I had to look up what the word Gluttony meant. It felt like such an old fashioned word and I had no idea what it meant. As I began studying the meaning of the word I realised this is probably the one I’ve personally wrestled with most in my own story. I've had a big journey with escapism in all kinds of ways, from drugs and binge drinking to even escaping through positive things like travel and fun experiences. Before we dive in, let's look at the meaning of the words 'Gluttony' and 'Wisdom'
Are you sitting somewhere cozy? Do you have a cup to tea?
Let’s dive into our 4th article of the Seven Series and learn the ways of Gluttony so we can walk in the ways of Wisdom.
Before we get into it.. Jesus Made us Right Before God.
I would not be a Christian if it meant that I had to behave well enough to be accepted by God. That would be a huge fail. Trying to be perfect by 'being good enough' for God’s love will never ever ever work, not in a million years.
This kind of religious striving is finished. As we heard Jesus say this on the cross, 'It Is Finished'.
In the words of Graham Cooke ‘it is the work of Jesus Christ who has made us irresistible to God’. Jesus paid the price for sin. In Christ, our identity is righteous, beautiful, pure and victorious. We now live under a heavenly grace, we don’t need to be perfect to be in relationship with God. The pressure is OFF.
As we walk on in our relationship with Jesus, beautiful things start to blossom in our hearts. You know those people who are so great, and they bring the best out of you? That’s what Jesus is like. When we encounter the good news of the gospel, new life explodes within us. Like a butterfly breaking forth from its cocoon. So when we are talking about these things, in this case ‘gluttony vs wisdom’ - we are talking about these things from a place of already being right with God (Romans 3:22). This article is not to about making us feel bad about ourselves and like good friends chit chat about all kinds of things that come up in life, let this series be received in the same spirit.
We all deal with this stuff, as challenging as some of the topics may be.. this is not about anyone being better than the other. It’s about having real conversations, seeing what the bible says about it, and being more free because we have spoken about it, brought it to the light, and brought it to God so His love can bring life to areas we wrestle with.
So c’mon then, shall we dive into the next bible adventure of the Seven Series?
Solomon, the son of King David, his story is found in the old testament. When David passed away Solomon became King and God showed favor to Him and appeared to him in a dream (1 Kings 3). In the dream Solomon asks for wisdom and a discerning heart, and God gave him the gift of wisdom. Solomon became the wisest man who had ever walked on earth. We can still learn from his wisdom today! He is the author of 3 of the wisdom books in the Old Testament. Proverbs, Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes.
Solomon loved God but sadly, as he got older he lost his way and his gluttony had a huge part to play in this happening. Whilst Solomon really experienced life to the full, and had wealth, power, and fame, this also brought him opportunities for other pleasures, including many women and an abundance of opportunity for self indulgence. By the end of his life, he honoured other gods over the true God, resulting in the end of his reign, and the blessing on his life, and family.
He may have lived life to the absolute full, but at the end of the day he wasn't ‘full’ at all. (you can read more about this in Ecclesiastes)
I’m sure we can all relate to this feeling of emptiness.
“I’ll be happy if I can have that career or title. I’ll be happy if I can have a relationship like that celeb couple. I’ll be happy if I can get more lip filler. I’ll be happy if I can travel the world. I’ll be happy if my body is in shape. I’ll be happy when I can get pissed on the weekend. I’ll be happy when I have 30k followers on Instagram”
Actually, no we won’t.
We are so drawn to these things and we wrestle with these things. Some more in different seasons and some more than others. The source of these things are not all bad. For example wine, travel, or success to name a few, when used with wisdom or moderation God can bless us by these things; when God created this world and mankind he called it ‘good’.
So what happens when we pursue created things of the world more wholeheartedly than we pursue our relationship with God? Solomon’s reflections from his life led him to the conclusion that chasing after these things is as productive as chasing after the wind, and that true satisfaction is found only in one true God.
A life without God at the center of it, our hearts and this world will prevent us from ever being content. True peace for our souls can only be found by connection to our Creator – and from that place with a heart full of gratitude we can appreciate all the good things God created for mankind.
What does this look like in 2022? Most of us are probably not kings and queens in Solomon’s situation, but that doesn't make his life lessons any less of importance to us. So what things in this world are fighting to take the God spot in our lives? What are our main distractions??
When I was in college Monday evenings were the best. It was the night of my favourite program at the time. It was playing at 9pm on E4, and I’d invite my friends over to join me who loved the show as well. Each week was a special event with friends and snacks and every episode had an exciting storyline which always left us wanting on a cliffhanger. We had to wait a whole week for the next episode, and even though waiting was so frustrating as we wanted to know what happened, the fact we had to wait made it a special event.
And then a few years down the line Netflix came out, and we were buzzing about it. Unlimited series whenever we wanted and however many episodes we desired to watch. But as I look back I can’t help but miss the way TV used to be because without realizing, there was a healthy boundary put in place for us. Now before I get accused of popping the balloon, I am the first to say I love netflix and I love the chill days where we watch movies or catch up on a really good series, and honestly sometimes that is exactly what our soul needs. The truth of the matter is, if we don’t apply wisdom and manage what we consume, it will end up having control over us.
As we wind down after a long day, as we rest and go into downtime mode we are getting ready to receive something, and applying wisdom here leads us to a worthy investment.
'If you read newspapers, you will talk newspapers. If you feed on gossip, you will talk about others. If you watch TV everyday, you will talk TV. If you are filled with God and His word, you will pour out His Spirit' In our consumerism, applying wisdom in our life and our relationship with God will look very different for each person. The beauty of wisdom is that it can be applied to every person and their unique situation. For me, I want the weekly Netflix episode rhythm, and I’d like to spend more time on other things instead of scrolling the gram. Many times I have scrolled instagram probably for hours and I’ve felt so negative and empty after. It was entertaining for a second but after it spiritually feels like I’ve eaten a mcdonalds meal.
What we endlessly consume is one part of what needs wisdom, but it is also the indulgence or escapism of anything - and sometimes this is because we are on autopilot and it’s simply a gluttonous habit and like King Solomon, we have access to never ending so-called entertainment and pleasure. Or sometimes escapism is due to valid heartbreak in our lives that we want to forget about. Escaping can sometimes feel like the only option to feel joy in really hard times.
One day I was having a really hard day. I was at work and I thought “I’ll go shopping after work, that will cheer me up!” And the thought of going shopping and buying some clothes was what kept me going for the rest of the day. I don’t always hear God’s voice as clearly as this, but later on this day I did.
As I was walking down the shopping aisle I suddenly sensed the presence of Jesus’s love and I heard a whisper from the Holy Spirit “I can satisfy you more than any material possession could ever satisfy you” and as I heard Him speak my heart swelled with joy! You always know God is speaking when a fruitful substance covers the words (Galatians 5:22). I continued to browse and then I got in my car.
“Maybe I should have spent some time with God over my situation before going shopping” I thought to myself as I drove home.
The next day we had a devotional time at work, and the verse that was spoken about jumped right out at me. It was Isaiah 55, which talks about how God can totally fill you up for free. God was challenging me to get my satisfaction from Him first. It’s so natural for us to go to the material things of this world to give us that spiritual ‘water’ our soul craves. But the irony is, that craving is in you because you were created for spiritual connection to God. He is truly the satisfaction; He is the missing puzzle piece. He wants to fill you with this living water that Isaiah 55 talks about.
Consumerism without self-discipline is one part of gluttony’s rhythms, let's move on to escapism
When people turn to binge drinking and taking drugs, it’s usually for good reason. Most likely, there will be a heartbreaking story as to why they are going to these things to escape their reality. We hear of incredible miracle stories of people who were drug addicts and they had an encounter with Jesus and instantly they were free from their addiction. This does happen and sometimes people find freedom over a period of time. There are also stories of people who have been Christians for years and they are struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. Everyone’s story is different and everybody is always in a process, this is a delicate topic and people struggling with addiction are so precious. We need to hear from God before advising people in this area, this is not something that people can just stop doing.
In the words of Papa from ‘the Shack’, these things can take ‘a lot of time and a lot of relationship’
We need to get to the root of the issue. Getting drunk and taking drugs brings temporary escapism from a difficult reality, and the behavior is simply the fruit of a tree that has a deep root in something else. Escapism numbs your pain for a little while. This escapism could even manifest by an obsessive need for validation through social media, needing the perfect wardrobe full of the best clothes, or even traveling the world and having glamorous experiences can be a way of escaping. Wine, fashion and enjoying the world are beautiful things from God that we enjoy in His presence and fashion can be a fun way of expressing ourselves, but they are not our source of love and life. They cannot take the God spot, they cannot fix our problems in the long haul, and the result of running after these things over God is a counterfeit experience from the true spiritual bread we find in Jesus.
"I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." John 6:35
There are two parts of practical application tackling gluttony. There may be habits in our lives that are nearly totally out of control and we actually need help to get some victory over an area in our life. In my own life when I first became a Christian, I needed a miracle with my binge drinking. As I was getting ready to go out, it was almost like something came over me and I knew there was nothing that would stop me from getting drunk or taking drugs that night. It was an impulse that I could not break free from. I struggled with this for the first few years of following Jesus. I couldn't go clubbing because if I did, I knew I would end up getting out of my mind, which always resulted in self destructive behaviour towards myself and the people around me, which also led onto the ramifications of my choices. Whether that be a come down or cleaning up the emotional mess I made from the night before, that sometimes I didn't even remember what happened. I had no self control, my binge drinking had a hold over my life, despite my best efforts I'd always end up in the same spot again.
After a couple of years of staying away from these environments that triggered this behaviour, I was at a worship night and someone started to pray for me. As they prayed I experienced the Holy Spirit in a way I hadn't before. I experienced what the Psalmist talks about: 'the FULLNESS of joy is in His presence' (Psalm 16:11). I realised in this moment that being high on ecstasy or getting blind drunk was a counterfeit to the purest joy you can experience in God. God created joy, fun and laughter. God wants to fill us with His joy, and I was looking for His joy the whole time. I can say now that I now go to festivals and raves now full of God's joy. I have no desire to get drunk or take drugs, my burden has been taken away and it's one of the greatest miracles I have personally seen God do so far in my own life.
He wants us to be full of joy! He wants us to rise up and be victorious! The gospel is glorious news and Jesus truly can break every chain that bounds us.
Coming out of something that has had a hold over us can sometimes be dealt with in a moment and other times it's done in a process. It's okay to ask for help as well. Never be ashamed to share what you are going through with someone you trust.
So what does this all practically look like?
How do we overcome?
How do we deal with tempting moments in the everyday?
Jesus can save you from the thing that is crushing you. If you are currently dealing with a burden that is taking up your life, know that God is completely in the middle of this battle with you. It can be hard to picture this because you can’t see Jesus with your physical eyes but He is with you by Spirit (Colosians 2:5) Nothing can pluck you from His grasp (John 10:28)
Go to Him with your troubles. There are some battles where we need a miracle from God. Never give up praying for your breakthrough. The Father’s business is all about bringing freedom to the captives. Your current struggle will be a gorgeous testimony that draws other people closer to Jesus. Put any practical boundaries in place that might help until the breakthrough comes, don’t be afraid to seek help and reach out, keep praying, trusting, keep worshiping Jesus. Freedom is coming (Isaiah 61) 'No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.' Romans 8:37
So many beautiful humans on this planet are seeking ways to be content with this world alone. This is absolutely exhausting and wears on our souls. Some of us may even need a big cry as we hand over this heavy load to Jesus. Take some time to have a rest from this striving, and Jesus will bring peace to your soul.
“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28 – 30
Remember my story of wanting to buy clothes instead of going to God first? Isaiah 55 promises that God will freely feed your spirit. Jesus describes Himself as the living water, going to God whether that be in your room, at the beach, at church or wherever you want and wait on His spirit. Read His word and when you don’t feel it - receive it by faith. Enjoy life and relationships from a place of being filled to the brim with Jesus. I remember when I became a Christian, life went from black and white to bright colours. There was purpose everywhere I turned, all thanks to Jesus filling my heart!
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
Jesus was always led in life by compassion. Seeds of gluttony, jealousy, greed, hatred and pride are knocking on the door and every now and again these seeds try to settle in your heart's soil. Don't be led by gluttony. Be led by compassion. Don’t nurture sins whispers nature because it wants to guide your actions and responses. Don’t move in life from any sketchy motive that isn't rooted in love. Resist the urge and wait. Wisdom always stops to think. Take that thought or internal reaction to the Father in your private time and seek Him. Study the moment with God and learn what His truth is so you can receive even more freedom. Let Him plant His seeds of truth and life, kindness and wisdom. Let Him heal any pain that made that moment difficult. He’s our gardener (John 15). He will deal with the unfruitful things within us. Speak, work, advise, help, serve and minister from compassion. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
An attitude of gratitude is such a powerful spiritual discipline. Giving thanks will safeguard you in your life, it’s no wonder it’s mentioned so much throughout the bible. Be content. Practise it everyday in a way that suits your personality. Start a gratitude diary, go on thanksgiving walks, say thank you to every good thing that happens through the day, this will produce contentment within you. Gluttony has no gratitude inside of it, it will take and take and take until the cows come home. And the way of gluttony as King Solomon tells us ‘is as productive as chasing after the wind’.
Did you know that you have an incredible mind? Wisdom is woven into mankind and we are capable of making choices that bring so much life to us and the world around us. I hope you feel significant, because you are significant. Believe about yourself that you made good choices. If you really find it hard to believe that, then start today.
Self hatred can walk out the door right now. When you hear that ‘inner critic’ bully you into becoming better, that is one of those ‘Sin Seed’ moments that you don’t want to be nurturing or taking advice from. You are loved, and you are a child of God. God is the perfect Father, and no good parent would come down hard on their baby when they fall whilst they are learning to walk.
In these moments, say out loud! “I am brilliant! I am loved! I am a beautiful work in progress!”
Let’s get really good at our self-talk. Talk to yourself like you would talk to the person you love most in this world.
Some time ago I started watching ‘Downton Abbey’, I got hooked on the storyline and watched so many episodes that I started to hear the theme tune as I was falling asleep! I thought “hm, okay this took up too much of my head space”, now on a Sunday afternoon I’ll watch an episode of Downton. No more for me during the weekdays! I have projects I really need to get done this year aside from work (the seven series being one of those things!), and I was allowing Netflix to take my time away. What boundaries would help you? It will look different for everybody.
Take some time, have a think and see what naturally comes to your mind.
30 mins on social media a day?
2 hours a week?
Buying clothes only if it’s from depop or a charity shop?
Taking time to learn about the morals behind the businesses we buy from so we can make the world a better place?
What are your priorities in this season?
What could you spend your extra time that would be spent consuming on something you’ve been wanting to invest in that was put on the shelf?
A business? A hobby? Reading your bible? A dream you have?
It’s amazing when we put in a boundary and make space for silence away from the noise, how our dreams swim up to the surface..