Tag Archives: self-control

Leviticus 11-12; The Most Tolerated Sin In America

I had some routine blood work done recently. Most of my levels came back in the normal range. But my cholesterol was a bit high, and my potassium level was on the high side of normal. Plus, I’m about 25 pounds overweight. Just great.

Gotta quit buying those chips.

I was reading God’s instructions to the Jews about what animals they could and couldn’t eat. Considering they were nomads with no refrigeration or antibiotics, and knowing the diseases the unclean animals tend to carry, it makes sense. God, always looking out for us, wanted His people to enjoy good health.

But I didn’t make the passage personal until I pulled out good old Matthew Henry. Listen to what he says:

“The Lord is for the body, and it is not only folly, but sin against God to prejudice our health for the pleasure of our appetite.”

Wait. What?

It occurs to me God didn’t just suggest a healthy diet here in Leviticus. He made it a sin to eat certain foods. Now I know in the New Testament He makes it clear that all food is acceptable this side of the cross. But aren’t there other Scriptures that have things to say about a healthy diet?

Deuteronomy 21:20 says if parents have trouble with a rebellious son, they should take him to the elders and say, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of the town should stone the son to purge the evil from among them.

Jesus seems to recognize drunkenness and gluttony as being in the same category in Matthew 11:19.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul calls our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit. And isn’t self control one of the fruits of the Spirit? (Galatians 5)

desiringgod.org says that gluttony is the most tolerated sin in America. (February 18, 2015 Eight Lessons on Gluttony) I don’t want to sugar coat this (pun intended). Look around. How many obese people consider themselves Christians? I’m not judging. Just wondering if we who are overweight should consider the possibility that we are sinning against God by how we are treating His temple.

I’m wondering if the time I spend eating, and preparing food, or thinking about food, is disproportionate to the time I spend in God’s Word and in sharing the gospel. Have I made food an idol?

The other day I told you about a friend who prayed for strength to lose weight. I’m beginning to think the Lord is speaking to me about this very thing. I don’t want to put my health in jeopardy just for the pleasure of my appetite.

Matthew Henry reminded me this is no joke. I can no longer think it’s no big deal if I overeat.

Dear God, I want to surrender all of me to you, including my appetite. Help me, Lord. I am weak.  You know I don’t have to be hungry to eat. I eat when I’m depressed, I eat when I’m celebrating or with friends, I stress-eat, and I eat when I’m bored. I like to eat. But, God, if it’s a sin, I repent of it. Help me to use food as You intend, to make me healthy and strong in order to serve You well. May the fruit of having Your Spirit living in me reveal itself in self control.

 

 

 

September 27 – Don’t Dance

Nehemiah 6-7

I watched some of the Presidential debate last night. I have to confess I turned it off after about 45 minutes. My blood pressure was going through the roof. I’d had enough of watching that example of how NOT to handle a bully.

And there were three of them on that stage. One hid behind a desk, one hid behind a condescending smile, and the other wore that familiar scowl. But they all acted like bullies, and all of them reacted badly to being bullied by the others. (only my opinion)

Nehemiah is a great example of how to handle bullies. He refused to react, or to sling mud back. He recognized the lies and refused to take the attacks personally. And he never lost focus on the job at hand, on what was really important.

I used to tell the Middle School students I counseled that most of the time bullies do and say mean things so they can watch you dance. Nehemiah didn’t dance.

If you are the recipient of some kind of bullying, I hope you learn from Nehemiah’s example and NOT from the dance we witnessed last night. You’ll never out-bully a true bully, anyway. But you can shut him or her down if you refuse to stoop to their level.

At least that’s what I get from Nehemiah’s example. And I’m thinking if God put it there in His Word, there must be something to it.

Sticks, Stones, and Swearing

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.

I understand why adults tell children that to help them ignore mean things other children say. But is it true that words can’t hurt? Reputations have been ruined, riots have started, lives shattered, when someone says something that hurts.

James, in chapter 3, tells us our tongues can be untamable. He says our tongues control us. What comes out of the mouth reflects what is in our hearts.

Slander? Gossip? Lies? Coarse language? Dirty jokes? Venom? People say, “pissed off” quite easily these days. or “OMG”, or worse. What does that say about what is in the heart?

The question is, do I want my words to come from God’s heart, or not. James says sometimes what we say comes straight from hell. When I read that, I have to stop in my tracks and consider what is in my heart. Can a person whose heart is given completely to God say things that offend Him?

The thing about words is once they are out they can’t be taken back. Damage is done, and often irreparable. Sometimes the hurt is never healed.

Control the tongue, you control your whole self, James says. Control the tongue and reveal Christ to everyone within hearing distance.

Father, I pray for all of us today as we consider our vocabulary. Is how we express ourselves any different from how people who don’t know you express themselves? If there are those things we say that offend You, point it out to us. Convict us. And may we be quick to repent. May the words of our mouths be pleasing to you. And may others recognize that our words come from Your heart.

Not-So-Common Sense

The Proverbs are rich in common sense (or not-so-common these days). Today I read in chapter 16 where it says a whisper can destroy a friendship.

Why is it some people think they have to tell everything they think they know? Why do some stretch the truth or pass on an opinion as fact? Why is it some people are intent on stirring things up, living in drama every day? And how many friendships, even marriages, could be saved if we would learn to control our tongues? (Read what James has to say on that subject in chapter three of his book).

You might whisper the latest gossip into the ear of your closest friend, but once you do you have no control over where it goes from there. And you have no control over the hurt caused by your little whisper. The damage is already done.

It’s like the internet, social media. A hard lesson many people have had to learn is that anything posted can NEVER be completely erased. That picture will always be in cyber space, accessible to anyone. That email sent in private is not so private there on the server.

A whisper, a text, a post can destroy your relationships, can destroy lives. Are you ok with that? Are you willing to be a part of that?

It should be common sense to know that spreading gossip is destructive. It should be common sense to know that the less said, the better on most subjects, especially if the subject is really none of your business or the business of the person you are telling. But God knew we don’t always use the sense we have, common or not.

So he inspired men to write down some common rules of living. Like what I read today in Proverbs. Like what James had to say.

Next time you are tempted to pass on that juicy bit of information… zip it. Show a little not-so-common sense.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for our tongues. That amazing muscle helps us speak, taste, swallow, chew. It’s a pretty handy invention you have there. But God, may we be reminded the power we have in the use of our tongues. May we control them, whether tempted to whisper that gossip in the ear of a friend, or use our fingers to type out the words before we hit “send”. May the words of our mouths and the meditation of hearts be acceptable to you, Lord. And may we use our words to build up, encourage one another rather than be any part of tearing somebody down.

May 27

Proverbs 2-4

Solomon is talking about wisdom and the benefit of godly wisdom. It’s wise to follow God, to turn from evil. Sound judgement and discernment are life to you, he says. Listen to your parents and don’t step foot on the path of the wicked. Trust in God and he will straighten you out. 

Then Solomon says in 2:23, “Above all, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Is that a little anatomy lesson from Dr Solomon about exercise and watching your cholesterol? Those things are wise. But he goes on to say don’t swear or tell dirty jokes, keep your eyes from wandering, stay on the straight and narrow and keep your foot from evil.

I’ve heard married people say, “There’s no harm in looking” when they notice an attractive person of the opposite sex. Solomon begs to differ. 

What we read, watch on TV, listen to in our music, laugh at during break time at work are feeding our hearts. Don’t kid yourself that it doesn’t effect you. That’s foolishness to think.

I imagine very few people wake up one day and say – I think I’ll have an affair today. Or I think I’ll become an alcoholic today. Or I want to lose all my money on a card game today. But affairs happen, alcoholism is a reality, and families suffer because of gambling. Those and other sins begin one choice at a time.

Sure you don’t become an alcoholic by having that first drink. But that first drink can lead to another and another. One look at an attractive person isn’t an affair. But that look can lead to longing, imagining, desire. What starts out as innocent, as harmless fun or recreation too often leads to full blown sin and heartache.

So Solomon warns us to guard our hearts. Pay attention to what you feed it. Control your impulses while you can. Don’t be foolish enough to think you are different than anyone else, that you can control yourself when others can’t. That’s putting your toe on the road to destruction. And that’s the first step to real trouble.

There’s going to be a lot of wisdom thrown at us in the next few days as we read Proverbs. May God find our hearts eager to be nourished by his word.