Food for the Stomach

By Pastor Teck Uy

The Bible is brimming with instructions and commands on how we can live our Christian life. It spells out guidelines that we follow at home, outside of the home and in the church. The importance of the Bible is emphasized when the apostle Paul said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). One area in a Christian’s life that needs to be looked at closely is in the matter of eating. Because of our craving for food, we often neglect some of our table manners. It is for this reason that the apostle Paul instructed believers, saying, “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment” (1 Cor. 11:33-34).

During the time of the disciples, food distribution was one of their major problems. One group of believers had too much food supply, while another group was overlooked. This caused the disciples to appoint seven men from among them to be in charge of food distribution, in order to correct the problem. Because too much emphasis was being given to food, the apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Corinthians, said, “But food does not bring us closer to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do” (1 Cor. 8:8). As if this rebuke was not enough, he said further, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food—but God will destroy them both” (1 Cor. 6:13). The fact is that our body only needs just enough food to be nourished and strengthened. Too much of it will be an abuse to the body and leads to gluttony.

Today, we are accustomed to eating voraciously. Restaurants offering all-you-can-eat meals are mushrooming. We submit to the temptation of stuffing our stomach with so much food that our body does not need. As we get accustomed to this eating habit of eating all we can, we bring the same practice to church and other places where we have fellowship meals. We stack our plates with so much food that we neglect those who are behind us. By the time those who are at the end of the line get to the table, the supply has run out. This has been a cause of irritation even among believers. We need to be considerate of others and make sure that all will have their portion. Fellowship meal is not meant to stuff ourselves with food, but to spend time together leisurely, eating whatever is set before us. We should also spare the host of the worry that the supply might not be enough to feed all.

To those who are given to appetite, the Book of Proverbs warned, “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. Do not crave his delicacies for that food is deceptive” (Prov. 23:1-2). Many fall into sin when they do not control their cravings for food. For the sake of food, they compromise their integrity—their own appetite traps them. Again, the Book of Proverbs tells us that the “labourer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on” (Prov. 16:26) No wonder many put in extra hours, trying to make more money only to satisfy their appetite for food and things that are not essential in keeping them closer to God. On the contrary, they are drawn away from God as they crave for and covet food. This fact is well illustrated by the fall of man. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they were free to eat from any of the trees in the garden, except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However, because the forbidden fruit looked appealing to the eye and good for food, Satan was able to entice Adam and Eve to covet and eat the fruit, thus causing them to sin against the Lord. Hoping that he would succeed again, Satan used food to tempt the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus responded, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’”(Matt. 4:3-4).

Friends, let us guard our heart so that we will not be tempted to fall into the sin of the first Adam. Let us always remember that food is just for the stomach and will not draw us closer to God. Therefore, let us crave for the spiritual food just as Jesus, the second Adam, said and be saved. Indeed, the only food worth craving and working for is the food that endures to eternal life. Hallelujah!