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Reflections On The Act of Eating

April 24th, 2009

Focus Passage: Proverbs 13: 25 (NLT)

 25 The godly eat to their hearts’ content,
      but the belly of the wicked goes hungry.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

I’ve never been a stranger to eating.  I grew up in the South in a culture of culinary opulence.  Biscuits and gravy were more familiar to us than some of our distant cousins.  Finishing your plate was a core value and a prerequisite for entrance into heaven.  I honestly never remember a time that my mother had to give me the “there are starving kids in Africa” speech. You could rest assured that I was a good steward of every bite that was placed in front of me.

There’s something to be said for the act of consuming food.  Though it seems less-than-spiritual in our modern perceptions of Christendom, I submit that eating was created to be something special.  Like all things created by God, they began in a version that was good . . . a version that existed before a sly counterfeiter came along to deceive and distort the original intents of so many wonderful things.  

Just like a great chocolate cake, the blessings of God’s creation are meant to be savored and over-indulgence can cause stomach cramps . . . except in this case, the enemy has convinced people to engorge and consequently sicken themselves upon actions, relationships, and ideas that were originally intended to be only complimentary toppings to accent the main dish: the Creator Himself.  

In short, we were made to feast upon the wonders provided by our Father.  We were created to gaze down the huge table He has spread before us with expressions of thanksgiving at the One who provided such a bountiful feast . . . instead, we gaze at the blessings on the plate of humanity and worship them instead.

That being said, we can easily overlook the actual act of eating as God-initiated.  Is it for the purpose of physical survival and strength?  Sure.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Just consider how many major events of scripture occurred over tables and around meals.  Do we think it coincidence that the very first Bible story revolved around whether or not Adam and Eve would eat a certain piece of forbidden fruit?  Or that Cain and Abel both brought consumable offerings to God, thus setting the backdrop for the first murder?

In a positive light, consider that God set up His moment of deliverance for Israel when He instituted the Passover meal.  Wow!  As the Israelites were munching away beneath blood-stained door frames, the Angel of Death was doing away with their enemies.  Why food?

Or consider that Jesus’ first miracle happened at a wedding feast in Cana.  Or how many times did the Pharisees become enraged because Jesus “ate” with sinners.  Or the Last Supper . . . or breakfast by the sea with His disciples after He was raised from the dead?

We didn’t have to have this capacity to consume food.  He could have made our bodies without this need.  Somewhere in the mind of infinite divinity, the act of eating is important . . . as greater evidenced by the wedding feast of the Lamb that we will partake in at the end of this age.

Growing up in a family business that required manual labor, I soon learned that food tasted better when you have worked hard to earn it.  Vegetables from your own garden seem a bit sweeter . . . somehow made better by the toil and sweat that drip down into each row and root system.  

Though we’ve reflected on the theology of food in general, the specific context of this verse is pretty simple: “The godly eat to their hearts’ content, but the belly of the wicked goes hungry.”  It’s about that mysterious combo of our effort and God’s provision.  Eating is another of God’s divinely-inspired earthly gifts to humankind, but it is meant to inspire us to labor hard and give our thankful efforts to the One who has prepared a feast of grace before us.  We are intended to gaze at Him in wonder as we partake of the beauty of who He is and what He has done . . . with each bite that sustains and strengthens our bodies and souls.

So, enjoy your meal with your friends and family.  Eat to your heart’s content.  Realize that sometimes the creative works of God are hidden in plain sight . . . maybe even right there on your table.




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