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Gluttony

by Stu Johnson

Posted: May 17, 2018

It's not just about easting…

No. 19 in the Thursday Morning Guy’s group series (see list)

Once again, I report from the Thursday Morning Guys group I’ve been attending at a local church. Each week one of the guys suggests a topic for discussion. The blogs that result are not minutes from the session, but an attempt to glean useful themes, to which I may add my own insights. The topic at the April 26 session focused on gluttony, but from a different perspective than the term might at first suggest.

THE DISCUSSION STARTER

Topic suggested by one of the guys, shared in an email the night before

The topic of gluttony was suggested following a sermon where it was approached as an issue of lifestyle, addressed with five questions:

  1. Is your lifestyle picky? Everything just so.
  2. Is your lifestyle luxurious? Not wealthy, but the best of everything.
  3.  Is your lifestyle speedy? No time to smell the petunias ever!
  4. Is your lifestyle excessive? More and more stuff.
  5. Is your lifestyle greedy? No time or thought for others.

Instead of my usual approach of Conversation, Principles and Scripture, this week I will organize the comments around the five questions, with bullet points from our conversation and several Scripture references.  I am making no attempt to generate principles, as with other blogs in this series—the five questions perform that function.

Note that some of the definitions may be different than you might expect, so I have focused on the descriptive phrase to categorize comments. For example, Greedy may suggest acquisition or excessiveness, but the point speaks to the idea of selfishness—“no time or thought for others.”

THE CONVERSATION & RELATED SCRIPTURE

Is your lifestyle PICKY? Everything just so.

  • From German heritage, likes things to be in order. Wife is more adventuresome.
  • Another spoke of his “German curse,” even in retirement where he follows a routine that cannot be broken (including asking a friend to wait until he finished his usual nap!).
  • Thrives on change.
  • Focused on planning—retirement, gravesites, etc.
  • Likes change, as long as you change to what I like—difficult to change to someone else’s view.
  • Wife is a perfectionist, but describes himself as a slob—spouse is what I am not, so opposites do attract!
  • What does it take to move us in a different direction? God makes us grow where we struggle
  • People don’t change until they face a crisis.
  • Like to fix things myself. Is God disciplining me, or is it just because I’m stupid?

Scripture:

  • God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect. (2 Samuel 22:31-33)
  • The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:2)
  • Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit. (Psalm 119:96)

Is your lifestyle LUXURIOUS? Not wealthy, but the best of everything.

  • Sometimes more expensive IS better because it lasts longer.
  • Lesson of Job: God gets attention through pain, dreams. What things get in the way?

Scripture:

  • Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

Is your lifestyle SPEEDY? No time to smell the petunias ever!

  • Punctuality important.
  • Eats hastily, then returns to food quickly after a meal.

Scripture:

  • Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. (Psalm 62:5)
  • I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. (Psalm 145:5)

Is your lifestyle EXCESSIVE? More and more stuff.

  • Not as much excessive as inability to throw things out! Old is comfortable. He is a collector, but his wife is a “thrower-outer.”
  • Do have a lot of golf equipment.
  • Chocolate—like it, can’t hide that—reward is beyond the eating
  • Does gluttony have an opposite—moderation.  Can you moderate your gluttony?
  • Not exactly on list, but concern for future leads to preparation, a kind of survivalist mentality. “I’d make a great squirrel,” but it’s really a matter of trust—“can God supply my needs?”
  • Not good at shopping, but does accumulate books. Can’t bring himself to get rid of old ones.
  • Some foods, like dark chocolate.
  • Likes to cook. Has a lot in the freezer, but not always what he needs.

Scripture:

  • Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life. (Proverbs 1:19)
  • Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (Luke 12:15)

Is your lifestyle GREEDY? No time or thought for others.

  • Easy to focus on projects, forget people.
  • Can’t get projects done because of dog! Interruption scan be pets, not just people. Work is important, but we are social beings.
  • In ministry, greedy for the work of the Gospel, but not relationships.  Always looking for potential converts with greatest leadership ability, potential—became numbers rather than people.
  • It is not good to be alone.
  • Moved several times, from one nice house to another, but selfish compared to friends who stayed behind and had family nearby. Now, back in area, with time for grandchildren, friends.
  • What did Jesus do, tell us to do? He spent time with the marginal and disenfranchised. We need to follow his example.

Scripture:

  • They were always greedy and never satisfied. Nothing remains of all the things they dreamed about. ((Job 20:20)
  • Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. (Ezekiel 16:49)
  • Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! (Luke 11:39)

Overall

  • Twenty years ago, I would have said yes to all five. Now, not everything is as important. “Age is a good cure for gluttony.”
  • What should a Christian lifestyle be like? Live moderately, with a light touch.
  • Have been reading C. S. Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain.” Pain is God’s megaphone. How does God get my attention? “God slam-dunked me” with serious illness.
  • Jesus said that whatever we give up—children, family—we will get back twofold in this lifetime. Challenge: what will be the return of giving up things we hold cloes?
  • Whenever we pursue something other than God, it gets in the way. Pursuing God has its benefits.
  • We act as gods of our lives, when we should “be still and know that I am God.”
  • My wife is usually right when she expresses a contrary view.

Scripture:

  • Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give! (Proverbs 21:26)
  • Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. (James 1:17)
  • And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. (1 John 4:17)

About the Scripture references: unless indicated otherwise, these are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT).  Links connect to BibleGateway.com, where you can see other translations, view the broader context, listen to an audio version and find other Bible resources.  Also check the resources available in the Enrich/Faith section of this site.


Stu Johnson is principal of Stuart Johnson & Associates, a communications consultancy in Wheaton, Illinois. He is publisher and editor of SeniorLifestyle, writes the InfoMatters blog on his own website and contributes articles for SeniorLifestyle.

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Posted: May 17, 2018

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