Gluttony – It’s NOT just about the FOOD

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January 4, 2016 by Joseph Krohn

What is gluttony?

  • Dictionary: “one given habitually to greedy and voracious eating and drinking.”Gluttony
  • Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Gluttony is sheer defiance of reasonable and balanced behavior.”
  • NAS James 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.



NAS Deuteronomy 21:20 “And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’

  • We should note GLUTTONY’s connection here with two other things: 1) disobedience, and 2) drunkenness. This is not a son who enjoys a good hearty meal—it is a rebel who does not control himself, or yield to his parents’ authority. It actually has very LITTLE to do with amount of food consumption.

Proverbs 28:7 Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous (gluttonous) men shameth his father.

  • In this text gluttony is contrasted with keeping God’s law and described as something that compromises family relationships.

NAS Proverbs 23:20 Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat; 21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.

  • Once again we see here the connection between gluttony and drunkenness
  • When the glutton thoughtlessly consumes his provision he comes to “poverty” (left without the things he needs), and “drowsiness” (induced by his excess), leaving him clothed only in “rags.”
  • Here the glutton does not enjoy food as the fruit of his labour, but his laziness and overindulgence deprive him of what he really needs.
  • In each of these Old Testament passages “glutton” or “gluttonous” translates the Hebrew word zalal (זָלַל) meaning “to make light of, squander, be lavish with” (BDB). The issue is not enjoyment of food, but excess and waste of anything!

NAS Matthew 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

NAS Luke 7:34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking; and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man, and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!’

  • “Glutton” in these two passages translates the Greek word phagos (φάγος) meaning literally “an eater,” from the verb meaning “to eat.”
  • Why did they call Jesus this? [It was the worse insult that they could call a Rabbi – note the difference between Jesus and John the Baptist]

NAS Titus 1:12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”

  • KJV – “slow bellies” – also translated “idol”



C.S. Lewis and the Screwtape Letters (Wormwood getting advice from Uncle Screwtape) – The Subject’s Gluttony-is-a-sinmother: To attack her with the sin of gluttony – Maid makes a meal for her, refuses it and asks for toast instead. On another occasion in a busy restaurant, asks for the special and when it arrives cries out that it is too much and sends it back to have half of the food removed (convincing herself it is better that way then to waste it). The demon convinces her that because she is asking for on both occasions LESS than was offered she is being fragile and even spiritual, BUT actually, she is committing the sin of gluttony – self-centeredly demanding WHAT SHE WANTS, in spite of the inconvenience that it causes to others.



  1. It is SELFISH and SELF-CENTRED – focused on my needs instead of others à 12 x “Love thy neighbour as thyself” – Gal. 5:14
    1. 21:20 – “He will not obey” – He wants what he wants
    2. 23:20 – “gluttonous eaters of meat” – want more than enough.
  1. It is LAZINESS and GREED – wanting more than what is right
    1. 23:20 – “with gluttony will come poverty… drowsiness will clothe a man in rags”I_Want_More
  1. It Is a LACK of SELF-CONTROL – it is going to the excess
    1. NAS Proverbs 23:30 Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine.
    2. 23:20 “goring themselves on meat”
    3. Enough is NEVER enough – NAS Proverbs 23:35 “They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink.” à Illustrates wanting MORE and MORE.
    4. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
    5. Illustration: The Roman emperor Vitellius, who reigned for eight months in 69 A.D. embodied this type of gluttony. Ate large meals a dozen times a day – established a room called the Vomitorium – you can guess what that was for – so that he could eat even more.
    6. 28:7 – “companion of gluttons” – lit. a slave to it
  1. It is POOR STEWARDSHIP – over indulgence of hobbies, entertainment, food, work – can be a poor steward of what God has given to us.
    1. KJV 1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
    2. 23:21 “Drowsiness” à Illustrates poor stewardship of your time, energy, passion, etc. Gluttony is a lack of balance… a shift to self instead of God being at the centre of EVERYTHING!
  1. It is IDOLATROUS DEVOTION – Allowing anything to control you.
    1. Titus 1:12 “slow bellies” – What does this mean? [refers to idolatrous relationship – anything you place ahead of God can be associated with gluttony].
    2. NAS Philippians 3:18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
    3. “Belly” – a picture of man’s appetite for anything – i.e. NAS Hebrews 12:16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single à Esau served his belly, his whims, emotions – He was a glutton.


  • We have seen that gluttony involves more than just an unhealthy enjoyment of food. It is characterized by improper attitudes towards God’s word, respect for authority, prudence, self-control, and one’s relationship to his/her own body and the material world.


1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.



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