Friday, 01 January 2016 11:16


Written by  Bob Crittenden
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This is the beginning of a new year, and by the time you have acquired a copy of this magazine and come across this column, you may have already made and broken your New Year’s resolutions.  I certainly hope not, but a Forbes story from 2013 indicated that some 40% of Americans make such resolutions, but only 8% keep them, according to research from the University of Scranton cited in the article.

So, what’s the leading resolution?  Nielsen offers some insight – last year, it reported that “staying fit and healthy” is our top resolution, coming in at 37%, followed closely by “lose weight” (32%).
Something is disconnected!  We are seeing people in rather notable quantities abandon opportunities to stay in shape.


Gallup reports that the national obesity rate continued to rise in 2014 to 27.7%, up from 27.1% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 25.5% recorded in 2008.  Since 2013, four states - Nevada, New Mexico, Minnesota, and, yes, Alabama - have had statistically significant increases in obesity.  Only one – Tennessee – had a significant decline.


If you’re looking for a definition of obesity, here’s one from Gallup: Americans who have a body mass index of 30 or higher are classified as obese. 

I believe there is undoubtedly a spiritual problem present, as well.  After a column in Journey addressed the topic of adultery a few months ago, a reader e-mailed me asking me to address the sin of…gluttony.  Here at the beginning of 2016, I thought it would be highly appropriate to do so.  I would submit that obesity can be the result of gluttony, but as John Piper, in the Desiring God blog, points out: “Oftentimes obesity issues are connected as much to activity issues as they are to what goes into our mouths. Muscles are designed to burn food, but if they aren’t being used then any amount of food is going to result in obesity.”

Gluttony is certainly a sin area, because it involves placing the desire for food above the desire for God, which is idolatry.  Piper states: “Gluttony is having a craving for food that conquers you.”  He says that, “A lot of gluttony is born of boredom. Life is not satisfying or stimulating, relationships feel empty, and work is boring, but food is always there and tastes so good.”  He challenges readers to “cultivate a range of appetites for great and good things, things like good literature, people’s fellowship, reading the Bible, nature, work, etc.  Discover these other appetites so that things other than food can satisfy you. Then pray earnestly and cultivate and nurture these satisfactions.”

The CNN Belief Blog reported on a 2013 survey, called, “Temptations and America’s Favorite Sins,” conducted by the Barna Group, which showed 60% of Americans admitted that they’re tempted to worry too much or procrastinate; 55% said they’re tempted to overeat, and 41% said they’re tempted by sloth, or laziness.  Those are the top 3 areas!

Todd Hunter, author of the book, Our Favorite Sins, which was used in correlation with the survey, experienced the extension of improper desires for food in his life, according to the CNN story.  He once shot up to 330 pounds because he overate.  He said all temptations start with a desire for something good: tasty food, rest, intimacy. They become “disordered” when they enslave people and spread pain through their lives.  He wrote in the book, “Disordered desires imprison us.”  He added, “In the end they give us nothing – not one lasting shred of goodness, freedom, joy, or love.”

Hunter’s advice for staying clear of temptation: fasting, praying and staying out of places and relationships that lead you toward temptation.

Our alarming rates of obesity indicate, I believe, that there are two major problem areas at play:  overabundance of food consumption and lack of activity.  You may not be obese, but if you yield to the temptation to overeat, you allow the desire for food to override the controlling power of the Holy Spirit.

Whatever we overindulge in indicates what we have not submitted to the control of the presence of Jesus in our hearts.  At the beginning of the New Year, we can be challenged to identify areas in which we have not surrendered control to God and recognize that He will give us the power to overcome temptation.  In 1st Corinthians 10:13, He promises a way of escape.  Piper writes:


I think we need to recover a large appreciation for the biblical disciplines of self-denial and fasting. That is the discipline side of this issue: “I will not be enslaved by anything,” “I pommel myself,” and “I take up my cross daily.” I think we should esteem, extol, and cherish the biblical teaching that the Christian life is one of confronting our cravings and saying no to them.

Last modified on Friday, 01 January 2016 11:25
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