Saturday, November 8, 2008

Learning Self-Control (Part One)

One of the things I struggle with is self-control. Learning self-control is something I am thinking about these days. It is a fruit of the Spirit and something we should pursue as believers. Jean Williams has written a series of helpful articles on our use of food. I will post these for your benefit and mine. --Bill

is dieting Christian? (4a) God's words on food: grace and giving

The very first thing God tells us about food is that it's his wonderful gift to us (Gen. 1:29, 9:3). It's right to enjoy food with enthusiastic thanksgiving to God. Like every pleasure, eating is meant to move us to praise.

"For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer" (1 Timothy 4:1-5).

Jesus was known for his cheerful eating and drinking, and was accused of being a glutton and drunkard (Matt. 11:16-19, John 2:1-11). It's good to "eat, drink and be glad" as long as we don't forget God (Ecc. 8:15 c.f. 12:13, and see Ps. 104:15; Prov. 18:19-21, Acts 14:17).

That's all very well, I hear you say. But what should we eat? When should we eat? How much should we eat?

Sorry to disillusion you, but unless you want to give up your faith right now, and live under the Old Testament law with its restrictions and regulations, you won't find specific answers to these questions in the Bible (despite what some
Christian dieting books will tell you).

As Christians we live under grace, not law. We're made right with God on the basis of faith in Christ, not on the basis of what we do. We are free to eat what we like - clean and unclean food (Matt. 15:1-20, Mk. 7:1-22, Acts 20:9-23, Heb. 9:10) or, to use modern categories, "good" and "bad" food.

But this is not freedom without responsibilities:

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbour as yourself"" (Galatians 5:13-14).

We mustn't use our freedom to indulge ourselves, to pursue pleasure without restriction. Free to eat, we shouldn't to be controlled by food. We are to use our freedom to serve one another in love (1 Cor. 6:12-13, 10:23-11:1, 11:17-34, and see Rom. 14).

So when we eat, we should ask ourselves these questions: does my eating glorify God? Does it benefit those around me?

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