I heard a pastor say once, “No one is above reproach.”
I say, “Not true pastor.”
Positionally — or how a Christian is related to God the Father — we are holy and blameless. Justified. You’ve heard the cliché saying, justification means “just as if we’ve never sinned.” Theologians call that vertical justification — from God to man. Horizontally — man to man — we must fight to remain above reproach. We fail to be above reproach when our actions — or words — hinder our spreading of the gospel.
I know a group of men who live above reproach. Or, have known men who’ve lived that way. Most of them have died.
Living above reproach is not doing anything that will hinder the spread of the gospel. It’s called living according to the social mandate. And, of course, that means within the bounds of your relationship to the Lord.
For example: let’s say you hate to cut your grass and your yard looks like an out of control jungle. Your neighbor’s house is valued not only on the way it looks, but your house and yard determine his home value. Every day the neighbor looks out his window and sees your yard and curses you for it. There’s nothing wrong with not cutting your grass. Right? I mean we live in America. We’re free to have the yard we want on our property.
Well… let ‘say that neighbor isn’t a Christian. Sunday at church the pastor’s message is about the good Samaritan and sharing the gospel. You get all excited and can’t wait to get home and invite your neighbor to church — the same neighbor that curses you every time he looks at your yard. Are you free to have the yard you want? At that moment, you are not above approach.
As I wrote earlier… I have known men above reproach. Men who let nothing in their lives prevent them from sharing the gospel or leading people – Christian or not – to an understanding of God. They never shared their political views. We never knew anything about them that would compromise sharing the gospel, or teaching. Their only reproach should be the cause of Christ.
What about something as simple as being overweight?
How can being overweight hinder the spread of the gospel?
First of all, let me just make it clear, being overweight is not wrong. How you got that way, however, may be a sin. Your health determines your energy level — how much energy do you have to spare for the cause of Christ if it takes all of your energy just to live. The world sees gluttony as something that is not only wrong but disgusting.
The heart of the matter — Gluttony
Philippians 3:18-19 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
Gluttony. Man has named it as one of the seven deadly sins. In His Word, the Lord hates it. Yet, it’s one of the most accepted sins – at least here in America. What is gluttony? If you want to change this in your life, and even lose some weight and/or get healthy in the process, you need to know. First, you must realize it is deadly? Gluttony is over-indulgence of anything – to the point of extravagance, or waste. It comes from the Latin word gluttire meaning to gulp down.
Are you a glutton? I was.
Originally, I’m from Louisiana. And yes… we can eat. Even while writing this book, if I were back in the French Quarter at the right restaurant, I might just become a glutton again – at least for about thirty minutes. And yes, I would beat myself up for it afterword’s. Once a glutton, always a glutton. Once heavy, there is always the danger of going back.
Christian men and women sit in judgment of homosexuals, drug addicts, murderers, and thieves at the Sunday service, then gorge themselves at the local restaurant with a group of fellow Christians that couldn’t hear the sermon because they were so excited about the meal afterward. Then, after they’re finished – still blinded by their desire – they leave sorry tips. The skinny waitress is left standing your group’s debris of food and drink — cursing you all. Try going back and witnessing to that waitress. You’ll find out just what kind of effect your gluttony has on the world.
“Wait a minute, I’m not gluttonous. Those are fighting words.”
Did I just hear some of you say that you are not gluttons? I heard one of you say you are heavy because of a hormone imbalance, then right after — or as you were saying it — you requested a double hot fudge Sunday. Hormones, they get blamed for everything. You ever realize that when a man starts to get heavy he begins to look like a woman – everything from curvaceous hips to man boobs. Or the woman. She eats and she eats. Next thing you know she’s using her husband’s shaver on her chin and upper lip as the normal soft downy becomes coarse and dark.
Like the alcoholic who stands up and must confess to end the deadly cycle, you too must do it. Here, I’ll go first. My name is Shawn Boutwell. And, I’m a glutton. I’ve lost a lot of weight, but I am still the same guy who ate himself to being heavy. I could just as easily go back. Now it is your turn. You need to do it. Do it now.
I saw on the Internet that one of the Biggest Loser winners gained all her weight back. She said it was because she became depressed. I watched that season. And I never heard the woman confess. Come on. You can do it. Just say it. Right now, wherever you are. It doesn’t matter if no one is around. Confess to your creator, you have not cared for yourself. Say it. Just four words that can change your life forever.
“I am a glutton.”
Good. Now let’s move on.
I say I could easily go back to being a glutton. Maybe. But, more than likely not. How do I know? Because I’ve come to realize that I am not the one who needs to eat. I am no longer the gluttonous one, my body is.
Go back and read what I just wrote. I am no longer the glutton, my body is.
Okay. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, do you know what the book of Proverbs tells me — that book of wise living principles? “Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine or with gluttonous eaters of meat. For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags, Prov. 23:20-21.
Are you an “eater”? That could be why you’ve struggled so much. Glutton in this verse literally means “an eater.”
Oh, but Shawn that was in the Old Testament. Hey, wise living is wise living. This is not a salvation issue. It is a life and death issue. You may be up and walking around, laughing, and yes still eating, but the real you — the you of your youth — is dead.
Okay, what about the words of our Lord to the Pharisees — the enemies of the gospel? “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.” Matt. 23: 25
Merriam-Webster defines Self-indulgence as excessive or unrestrained gratification of one’s own appetites, desires, or whims. The Greek word used for self-indulgence in this verse literally means: lack of self-control. Self-indulgence is gluttony.
Out of control eating is not Christ-like. WWJD? What would Jesus do? He’d stop eating when his body felt full. Jesus was not over-weight. He was free from this.
I understand that some folks have health issues or even were raised eating a lot — heavy from infancy. And, I understand that most heavy people will not be able to lose the weight they have lived with. But they can eat less, or rather, they cannot be glutinous.
Texting with my weight loss partner today I wrote: we are sacrificing gluttony on the altar of our bodies.
Sacrifice gluttony on the altar of your body.
Christians should be the most healthy, fit, people in the world. We don’t just have the instruction manual to this thing we call life, we have a personal relationship with its creator. How cool is that? Still not convinced you have the strength to do this? Are you saying that your body is stronger than God? That is essentially what you are saying.
Where does the strength come from to do this? Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
One day, long ago, a woman named Rebeca bore two sons to Isac. One was named Esau and the other Jacob. You know the story. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for some porridge and all the trouble in the world started between these two.
Right out of the womb, Esau came first, and Jacob had him by the heel. Esau was a skillful hunter and man of the field — brawn. And Jacob… the Bible says he was a peaceful man and lived in tents. In other words, he was not a tough guy — today he might be called soft.
One day Esau came in from hunting and said, “I’m famished.” So famished in fact, he traded his birthright — his life — for the food. Can you see where this is leading? Here in Genesis 25:29 — in the book of firsts — we have the second recorded instance of gluttony. Can you guess what the fist instance was? The bible said that Eve saw that the fruit of the tree of knowledge and good and evil, was good for food. Then Eve showed it to Adam, he saw it and he ate it as well. The text here says nothing of them being hungry.
A man gives his life up for food. How many of us have done the same? I know I did. Maybe you haven’t given up your life for food, but you work so much you never see your family. Maybe alcohol and drugs have taken everything from you. Whether it is food, drugs, sex, or shopping; it is all gluttony.
Though our choices may not determine the course of all mankind, theirs did. This scenario is played over and over again. We may not say, “I’m going to give up my life for food.” Or, “I want to get fat.” Or, “I think I’ll be gluttonous today.” Yet, with feet no longer visible beneath a protruding belly and chafing thighs, we make our way through the buffet line for our second, and even third helping.
Why fast? Do you believe that it is a kind of bribery? “If I fast as a sacrifice, God will honor that and answer my prayer.” Or maybe you see it as a point system. “I will show God that I _.” You can fill in the blank. People come up with all kinds of things.
Fasting is saying, “I am trusting him to fill me when I am hungry.”
“I am hungry for God.”
Fasting is putting off the flesh and practicing self-control. It is rehearsing holiness. God is not indebted to us for anything.
As a sacrifice, fasting is saying, “I want God more than I want food.”