One of the truths that is setting me free from gluttony is seeing my gluttony as a form of idolatry. It helped me admit that if I had to eat to excess then I did not consider God to be enough for my soul. It was a breakthrough in my thinking to realize that I was looking to food for what only God could give. John Piper’s good book on fasting, “Hunger for God”, was a helpful resource on this.
I began to see this idolatry when I tried to fast. I felt that fasting would be a spiritual discipline that would make me feel especially holy. I expected to have a deeper experience of prayer and a richer time in the word. In fact, however, I felt irritable and mildly discouraged. I like to eat. I like food. I look forward to eating each day. Thinking about what I am going to eat occupies a significant portion of my time each day.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying food like any other good gift from God but when you begin to delight in food so much that it occupies a place in your soul that only God should have you have made a God of food. No longer are you worshipping God and seeing food as one of God’s many good and perfect gifts. You are really trying to replace God with food. You know that is true when you eat to excess because that is sin and sin cannot be legitimate worship. Sin is not something you can do to the glory of God.
One day while fasting the day was approaching noon so I started to leave my desk head across the street to get something to eat. Suddenly I remembered that I had chosen to fast that day. A wave of disappointment, almost melancholy came over me. I realized that I was disappointed that I would have to spend that hour in prayer and fellowship with the Lord instead of eating some potato chips and a sandwich. The foolishness of it hit me hard. I had more delight in a bag of barbecue potato chips than I did in an hour of fellowship with the living God.
It is as if to say; “No, Lord, I can’t spend time with you today I would rather eat potato chips. The biblical term for such thinking is idolatry. It is worshipping a false God. Idolatry always seems foolish when you see it in others.
Isaiah exposed the foolishness of idolatry mocking the person who cuts down a tree, makes a fire to warm himself and cook food, and with the left-over wood carves an idol and prays to it saying “Deliver me, you are my God!” (Isaiah 44:13-17) It’s a silly picture, but not as silly as a man who worships barbecue potato chips or chocolate cake. It is interesting to notice that an idolater gives his god what is leftover after he has done everything else he wants to do.
So for me the greatest benefit of fasting is to help me realize how much I delight in food and God’s other gifts and how little I delight in God. I imagine that is kindergarten in the school of fasting, but still it is a valuable lesson.
Delight in the gifts God has given us richly to enjoy is an expression of worship. To be sure we are not worshipping the creation instead of the creator periodic fasting reveals to us the true delight of our heart.
I tried to begin to see the Lord looking on me when I made a food choice, and asking me; “Aren’t you happy with me? Aren’t I enough for you?” To confess gluttony as idolatry may be one of the truths that sets you free from bondage to food.