The Acceptable Christian Sin of Gluttony #16


TEXT: Genesis 25:29-34

29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:

30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.

31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.

32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

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John Piper said, “We need to recover a large appreciation for the biblical disciplines of self-denial and fasting. That is the discipline side of this issue. We should esteem, extol, and cherish the biblical teaching that the Christian life is one of confronting our cravings and saying no to them.”

According to Stanford Health Care Center, obesity is a major cause of heart disease. “Athero-scle-rosis (hardening of the arteries) is present 10 times more often in obese people than it is in those who are not obese. Coronary artery disease is also more prevalent because fatty deposits build up in arteries that supply the heart. Narrowed arteries and reduced blood flow to the heart can cause chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Blood clots can also form in narrowed arteries and cause a stroke.”

This is an uncomfortable subject for many of us, but if you listen and take heed, this particular series can not only change your life spiritually, but it can save your life physically.

I am sharing this passage today from the Word of God to show again how, strangely, people in the Bible have gotten themselves in trouble through food. Not only did Adam and Eve, our original parents, get in trouble through eating the wrong thing, but Esau got in trouble through valuing eating more than his own birthright. And sadly we’ve been in trouble through eating ever since. No wonder Moses fasted and Jesus fasted, and we are encouraged to fast throughout the Bible. There’s something about eating, eating the wrong things, eating at the wrong time, and valuing eating more than spiritual things, that messes up our lives. In our passage for today, we have a young man who is confronted with his cravings and is unable to say no to them — resulting in detrimental consequences for himself. As you know, Jacob and Esau were twin brothers. Esau was born first, however, and was destined to receive his father Isaac’s birthright when Isaac died. Esau was a hunter and an outdoorsman, the favorite of his father. Jacob was a shepherd and planter, the favorite of his mother Rebekah.

One day, Esau returns from hunting to find his brother cooking a stew. The hunt has not gone well and Esau has apparently been without food for a few days. He is famished, and all he can think about is getting a bowl of that stew. He has to have it. He begs his brother, “Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint.” Jacob, seeing that Esau is temporarily at a disadvantage, takes a step to benefit himself, telling his brother, “Sell me this day thy birthright.” Now, a birthright was the most important thing a young man in that day could have. Being the firstborn son, even if only by a few seconds, came with the promise that, upon the father’s death, the majority of his wealth would pass to you. But Esau, feeling like he is the one who is about to die right then, says, “Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” Jacob presses his advantage and gets Esau to swear that he will turn over his birthright before giving him “bread and pottage of lentils.” And the Bible tells us that Esau “did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.”

Later, thanks to the conniving of his mother, Jacob gets Isaac to bestow the birthright on him, finalizing its theft from Esau. While Esau became furious and plotted to kill Jacob, in reality, it was his own fault that he had given up his birthright. He let his craving for food dictate his actions. And that is precisely what many of us do. We desire some food and act like we can’t live without it. Our eating habits get us into trouble. The text tells us that Esau despised his birthright. And, by the way that many of us eat, we show that we despise our own lives.

PRACTICAL STEP: In “The RAVE Diet and Lifestyle,” Mike Anderson continues sharing with us why we should not eat animal foods. He writes, “The only thing you’ll miss from eating animal foods is the saturated fat, cholesterol and animal proteins — as well as the diseases these ingredients bring to your body. When you come right down to it, all our nutrients are ultimately obtained from plant foods. Meat-eating animals (including humans) feed off plant-eating animals, which really amount to storage systems for plant nutrients. The problem, of course, is that the plant nutrients in animals are delivered in a package of saturated fat and cholesterol. So why eat animals when you can get everything you need directly from plants?”