Many years ago, I took part in a Bible study that focused on losing weight using several different techniques that did help me become thinner. One of the weekly studies focused on a Bible verse from Proverbs 23:
When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.
That verse struck me as quite harsh and shocking. I had never really thought about overeating or eating just to eat might be anything that bothered God or was sinful. I knew He’d set forth all sorts of dietary laws in the Pentateuch, but I never made a connection between HOW & WHAT He wanted us to eat.
So, this verse in Proverbs really rocked my world. I pondered and meditated on this verse for days. I never thought I might be a glutton! That realization was VERY hard to wrap my head around. I tried to rationalize my overeating, my emotional eating, my eating when I was bored. It seemed that everywhere I turned, I heard this verse in my head. I saw evidence that God did not want me to overeat. Various “accidents” happened; I dropped bites of food. I spilled soda. I was repeatedly shocked by the simple methods God used to decrease my food intake.
For the past 10 years, I’ve continued to utilize many of the techniques I learned in that Bible study; I’ve even taught patients to use some of them. But I’ve rarely mentioned the verse that stirred such guilt & shame in my own spirit & emotions. I was afraid. I was guilty. I was ashamed. I was shocked. It was very hard for me to recognize that God wanted me to “cut my throat” if I was going to overeat. It sounded so very harsh then and still sounds harsh today. But in the years since I first studied the verse, I’ve begun to come to terms with what I believe God tried to set forth in this verse.
First of all, I know I’m not perfect. I still sometimes overeat or make an unhealthy choice. My goal is to help people see that God knows the desire of our human nature is selfishness – even in eating – and He does not want us to feel so guilty, fearful, or ashamed. He wants us to enjoy eating. He wants us to be joyful. He wants us to LIVE. In Deuteronomy 5, Moses wrote to the Israelites, saying ” Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (NIV, v 33).
Do you see that God wants us to LIVE? Living is not surviving. Living is not becoming overweight, unhealthy or unhappy. Living is being able to overcome & be victorious. Living is joyful – even during trials & tribulations, we can have inner peace & joy when we pursue LIFE. God really does WANT us to live with this idea at the heart of our being; He wants our focus on Christ and His ways so that we can LIVE a long life. Proverbs 10:7 says, “The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.” God isn’t saying that life will always be shortened as punishment, but may be a result of poor choices. Scripture is full of evidence of poor choices that resulted in serious consequences. God’s desire is NOT to punish us. His desire is to bless us – over & over again. He wants to give us long, healthy lives. When we make repeated bad choices, often those choices have their own consequences by laws of nature, science, chemistry, or physics. God is not going to override natural laws to save us from ourselves. Some of these consequences include illness and shortened life.
How can we obtain God’s favor and live long healthy lives? It’s easy. We seek His will, guidance & pursue a relationship with Him. We also go back in history to learn how people ate in the past. In Biblical days, many people lived to be well over 100 years old; Moses lived to 120. Joshua died at age 110. Noah lived 950 years. How? Why? Even if years were measured differently then (they weren’t much different), Noah lived a LONG, LONG time. How? Why? Can we adopt any of the habits or culture to help us today? I believe we can.
In Genesis, God gave the Garden of Eden & livestock of the land to Adam & Eve. He gave these to Adam & Eve for their own nourishment. He provided plants and animals for eating & satisfying our need for fuel & nutrients. He wanted us to enjoy eating and so He created a variety of tasty plants.
However, modern society has taken advantage of the earth & altered methods of planting, harvesting, & processing. Many of these methods have adulterated natural foods and removed nutritional value that God intended. One of the most common ways to improve nutrition state, is to cut out most or all of the processed, highly chemical-laden foods. Most processed and prepackaged food items have almost no nutritional value. Read nutrition labels, if you’re skeptical. Compare labels of white bread and whole grain bread, for example. There is very little difference in nutrient content. If whole grains are supposed to so much healthier for us, why is there no increased nutrient density?
Looking back over time, having bread at every meal every day was not common. Breads were difficult to have in large quantities because wheat and other grains have a long growing season & require a large amount of field to grow enough for use. With poor storage methods, grains were used seasonally, not daily. The only time in history that people ate bread daily is when God provided manna from Heaven to the children of Israel. He instructed them to gather it daily except for the Sabbath because it wouldn’t keep well. That manna provided plenty of nutrients because Scripture is clear – they ate manna daily for 40 years – and the people suffered no ill health effects. Other than this specified 40 years, humans have only had breads/grains seasonally. What did they eat the rest of the year? Meat. Meat is the only food source that has always been available.
Fruits & vegetables were only available seasonally. Very few plant products were easily stored for weeks or months on end. They did not use chemical preservatives to keep foods stable on a store shelf for months at a time. They used salt and fat to preserve foods. They built in-ground cellars where temps were cooler, but food was rarely stored for more than a few months.
In summary, God intends for us to LIVE long, healthy lives. How? First, realize that He has provided a way. Next, look to nature for most food sources. Avoid eating food-like items that man has conjured up in a chemistry lab or manufacturing plant. Look to the farm – the closer a food is to nature, the higher the nutrient content. Nutrient-dense foods are from the farm/garden. Foods with the most nutrition are meats, vegetables, & natural fats. Only consume fruits as occasional treats – fruits would only have been available seasonally, not year round. Substituting fruits for unhealthy highly processed carbs may seem like a good option, but remember they still convert to fructose & glucose, and too much can still cause ill health.
Finally, does God care if we are healthy or not? Of course He cares. He wants us to be healthy. He wants a full life for each of us. He’s designed a great way for us to be healthy and live a long time. Our next blog article offers tips to do just that!