O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Me? A Glutton?
"Me? A Glutton?"
Based on 1 Cor. 13:4-5
Preached on March 14, 2012
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"Love is patient and kind. It does not insist on its own way." (1 Cor. 13:4-5)
Fellow baptized saints, for the last three weeks we have been receiving reports from our spy within the Devil's camp. His cover is still intact, and we intend to exploit his leveraged position until the enemy gets scent of him. He has been revealing the various strategies of the Evil One, shedding light on how he tricks, befuddles and leads us humans to do what he wants instead of what God wants. He is so skilled at such deception that he gets us to think we are doing what we want, when in reality we are only doing what he wants.
Tonight, we have a report about a topic that we rarely talk about these days. It used to be commonplace, even considered one of the seven deadly sins. But nowadays it seems like the Church has forgotten about it. But the Evil One has not. He leans on this temptation today more than ever before, particularly because it is gaining him great success. Tonight, we are going to talk about gluttony.
Gluttony? What is gluttony? We have fallen so far out of practice with this word that we have a hard time understanding exactly what it means. When most people think of gluttony, they picture an extremely overweight person who cannot help but eat themselves to death. Certainly, eating yourself to death would be an extreme example of gluttony, but is that all that God means when He speaks out against it? Is gluttony only about eating too much, or is there much more to this picture?
According to our report, the Evil One pulls us to be gluttonous in two different ways, the first of which is through 'excess.' One short walk through the St. Vital Centre behind us here, and you will feel the pull of this 'excess.' There is nothing wrong with having something nice or even having something that you want, but how much is enough? There is no question what the world wants from you - it wants you to want more. Our entire culture is focused on how much you have. One is deemed to be successful because they have more than those around them. More - more - more. Nothing is ever sufficient. You can't have enough. You can't even feel like you have enough. You are forced to feel unfulfilled. What a terrible existence, yet which of us doesn't feel the worldly pressure to get more? Which of us is not tempted to want more? The Evil One knows exactly how to pull us - and his pull is strong.
But before we think we have gluttony all figured out, the Devil does something incredibly crafty. He knows we might react against his "more - more- more" strategy by exhibiting a little outward restraint. After all, we wouldn't want to be seen as an excessive person, so he leads us down a different path that goes to the same place. The second way he leads us to be gluttonous is by making us picky. He convinces us we are being self-controlled because we don't want a lot, except we are very picky about what we do want. He calls this the "All I want" state of mind. "All I want is a small piece of steak cooked medium rare with a few little vegetables on the side. Is that too much to ask?" He compliments us for our fine taste and delicacy. He makes us think that we are refined and sophisticated, socially advanced because of how we don't waste or splurge. Meanwhile, he is fostering an impatience and uncharitableness within us, because our tastes are so specific that the daily disappointment we face when they are not met produces daily ill temper. We feel let down when we don't get what we want, because we think that "all I want" is not much to ask for - yet in reality it is the same as asking for "more-more-more." The Evil One is pleased whether we are picky or excessive.
So what is gluttony? It is the determination to get what you want. The determination to be satisfied only in the way that you have in mind. It is the opposite of love, because love does not insist on its own way. It is the opposite of sacrifice, the opposite of what our Lord calls us to do on this earth. And when we take such a position, we are not "looking out for ourselves" as the world claims. We are not "taking care of our own" as the Devil would want us to believe. We are hurting ourselves. We are making things uncomfortable for ourselves. For this strong determination sets itself up against God. It sets itself up against our loved ones, our neighbours, and our coworkers. It creates battle lines, boundaries, and borders that God has not established. It isolates us from those around us. It is exclusionary. Hopefully we will see before the Last Day, that "more-more-more" is actually "less-less-less" and "all I want" is actually "all alone." God speaks out against gluttony to protect us from ourselves. He says, "Do not be determined to get your own way."
Christ lived His life with this sacrificial attitude, didn't He? He wasn't a picky man, or a man of excess. He didn't even have a place to lay His head. Instead as St. Paul wrote, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Think about that for a moment. Almighty God made Himself the humble servant of sinful gluttons. He came to serve these evil people who selfishly insist on their own way. He even sacrificed His life for those who had set themselves up against Him in their determination to get what they wanted. The humbling truth is that we are these people. Each of us has insisted on our own way. Each of us has set ourselves up against God and others. And yet God serves us. God emptied Himself for us. God died for us.
It is truly incredible. So incredible that we may shake our heads and ask why? Why would He do that? The answer is just as incredible. Christ did all of this to give you "more-more-more." Christ gave all He could so that you could have all you want. He knows what you are missing, what you really need - and so He sacrificed Himself to give you those things. The things that are best for you - the things that you were trying to protect with your gluttony in the first place - security, certainty, peace, forgiveness, harmony, unity, and hope. Christ has prepared an eternal meal of all that you want most. His meal is all you can eat - yet it is a meal with the finest of delicacies. It is worth the wait. It is worth sacrificing what you want now to have what you will really want later. Christ has promised you an eternity He describes as the wedding feast of God. How could we want anything else?
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr