Deadly #4 in Series for Lent
A number of years ago I was coming home from a Conference meeting in our old brown Chevy Cavalier station wagon, which our youngest son had named “Fuzzy” because the license plate began with the letters FUZ. I was driving along minding my own business when all of a sudden, I saw her. She was absolutely beautiful, perfect in every detail. There she was just sitting out there in her front yard for everyone to see, unconsciously showing off all of her beauty.
I’m sorry to say but I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. What can I say, I’m a guy. I drove on past and then I did something I had never done before and will probably never do again. I turned around and drove back by that yard so I could look again. Of course, I had to turn around one more time, so I could go home. And this time, I slowed down so I could get a really good look. She didn’t even notice.
For the next week, that’s all I could think about. I found myself going out of my way to drive by to see if she was out there. And most of the time she was; just as beautiful as ever.
Then one day I did the unthinkable, she was outside all alone, so I stopped. And there she was. And that was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. I stopped and that lead to everything else.
The next thing I knew I was at the bank taking out a loan to buy that Chevy short bed pickup with the beautiful black paint job. She was gorgeous.
When I drove it, I knew it was exactly what I wanted. And even though my better judgment told me I needed to have a good mechanic look her over, I was in the throes of lust and didn’t pay any attention to what anybody said. Well, you know the rest of the story. About six months after the new had worn off I began to discover why I got her so cheap. After air conditioner repairs, front end, transmission and brake repairs, along with a new head gasket and differential, I discovered that my beauty was actually at least three different salvaged trucks put into one. My beauty was a beast. It turned out I’d bought Frankentruck.
Yeah, somebody should have smacked ME and I think Mary tried. Lust took over and lust for that little black truck cost me. Thank heavens it was only a little bit of pride and the money for repairs.
When I was in Kindergarten, my Dad’s business went bankrupt. I really didn’t know what that meant until much later. But we moved in with my Mom’s Sister. For a 5 year old, living with Aunt Billie, Uncle Ace and all my cousins was the best thing that ever happened. It was also one of the worst.
I don’t remember what the occasion was but I distinctly remember sitting around the crowded table eating chili. I don’t know whether I was trying to impress my cousins or trying to be funny but I gorged myself on chili. I don’t remember my Dad telling me I had to eat every bite. I don’t remember him telling me, “You better not throw up.” The rest of the family does.
All I remember is throwing up. And then there was the laughter, the humiliation and the spanking. I didn’t touch a bowl of chili until I was a teenager. For at least ten years, all I could taste was that chili seasoned with humiliation and punishment. And of course, my family didn’t help, what story do you think they told every time someone made a big pot of chili.
LUST and GLUTTONY, GLUTTONY and LUST. Two of the Seven Deadly Sins. GLUTTONY and LUST, fraternal twins in the siblings of sin. On the surface, they seem fairly harmless but that’s because they are so insidious.
Let’s look at passage from 1 Corinthians 6:9-14 (NRSV)
 Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites,
 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.
 And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.
1 Corinthians 6:17 (NRSV)
 But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
I. LUST AND GLUTTONY:
Lust is about POSSESSION, the physical possession of another person or an object of desire, like a black Chevy short-bed Pickup. Gluttony is about CONSUMPTION. Both are about the capital “I” in the middle of sIn. The problem is that when you give in to Lust and Gluttony. They POSSESS you and CONSUME you before you even know it.
Lust isn’t ugly, it’s beautiful and enticing. It offers to hold your hand and makes promises to fulfill all your desires. The more it promises, the more your desires grow. Lust is beautiful up until the very moment you surrender and then it becomes ugly and leaves ugly consequences. And like Gluttony, once you surrender – it consumes you.
I found a story my mother-in-law sent a number of years ago about an ad that was run in the personal section of “The Atlanta Journal”: “SINGLE BLACK FEMALE…Seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I’m a very good looking girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your pickup truck, hunting, camping, and fishing trips, cozy winter nights lying by the fire. Candle light dinners will have me eating out of your hand. Rub me the right way and watch me respond. I’ll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me. Kiss me and I’m yours. Call xxx-xxxx and ask for Daisy”.
Over 15,000 men called the local Humane Society about an 8-week-old black LABRADOR retriever puppy. All 15,000 of those men would have avoided embarrassment if they had just heeded Paul’s words in Philippians 4:7-8 “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Did you know that 93% of men and 63% of women are exposed to porn before the age of 18? 25% of all web searches are for erotic content. 1 out of 3 viewers are women. Porn is a significant factor in 50% of divorces. And yet we pretend that LUST is not a problem.
B. Let’s shift gears and talk about Gluttony. I want to share with you a Poem/Prayer I heard years ago, titled “A Fat Man’s Prayer.”
Lord, my soul is ripped with riot,
Incited by my wicked diet.
We are what we eat, said a wise old man,
And Lord, if that’s true, I’m a garbage can!
I want to rise on Judgment Day, that’s plain,
But at my present weight, I’ll need a crane!
So grant me strength that I may not fall
Into the clutches of cholesterol.
May my flesh with carrot curls be sated
That my soul may be polyunsaturated.
And show me the light that I may bear witness
To the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.
At oleomargarine I’ll never mutter,
For the road to hell is spread with butter.
And cream is cursed, and cake is awful,
And Satan is hiding in every waffle.
Mephistopheles lurks in provolone,
The devil is in each slice of bologna,
Beelzebub is a chocolate drop,
And Lucifer is a lollipop!
Give me this day my daily slice –
But cut it thin and toast it twice.
I beg upon my dimpled knees,
Deliver me from Jujubees.
And my when days of trial are done
And my war with malted milks is won,
Let me stand with the saints in heaven
In a shining robe – Size 37!
I can do it, Lord, if you’ll show to me
The virtues of lettuce and celery.
If you’ll teach me the evils of mayonnaise,
The sinfulness of hollandaise
And pasta a la milanese
And potatoes a la lyonaise
And crisp fried chicken from the south!
Lord, if you love me, SHUT MY MOUTH!
I don’t remember when I first heard Victor Buono read that poem but I do remember that it was on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson Show. It’s funny because it strikes a nerve of reality.
Gluttony is a major problem in our country. I’m not talking about a Biblical perspective on dieting. Gluttony isn’t about good or bad eating habits. Gluttony isn’t about overeating, or even about being overweight. Instead, gluttony is about making food the central focus our lives.
I read about a little boy who opened the refrigerator and found the very last piece of his mother’s award-winning chocolate cake. The only problem was it had his little brother’s name on it. Well, he took it out, took off his brother’s name, and began eating the piece of cake as fast as he could.
Just as the last tasty bite went into his mouth, his mother walked into the kitchen and caught him. “I can’t believe you ate that whole piece of cake without, once, thinking about your little brother.”
The little boy said, “Oh, I was thinking about him the whole time I was eating. I kept worrying he’d come in before I could finish it all.”
Gluttony is about consuming, not just our share but as much as we can possibly get. Gluttony is thinking about food and dealing with food to the point that it shoves everything else aside. Another way to put this is that all of us who are overweight aren’t necessarily gluttons. A painfully thin, anorexic girl or woman who engages in cycles of self-starvation and eating binges has her life almost totally dominated by food. Her life is one of gluttony.
If you look at it that way, then, under-eating can be as much of a problem as overeating. The sin of GLUTTONY is making food into a god. Gluttony is using food to solve or relieve the burden of our problems. Gluttony is allowing food to define who we are.
II. THE SOLUTION:
A. Just like there’s no sure fire quick way to lose weight, there’s not a simple solution. You see, sin is soul deep. And the Seven Deadly run the deepest. But there IS a solution. And that’s the Love and the Grace and the Mercy of Christ. It’s pressing “on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” as Paul writes in Phil 3:14. It’s making the love of Christ the focus of our lives.
Maybe if we compare and contrast it will help.
Lust wants to get and take. Lust wants to Possess. Gluttony wants to take and horde. Gluttony wants to Consume. Love, on the other hand, seeks to give and seeks to share with others.
Lust seeks to dominate. Gluttony wants to monopolize. Love seeks relationship and community.
Lust desires to use the other person. Gluttony ignores the needs of others. Love seeks to enhance, encourage and build up the other person.
Lust treats the other person as an object, a thing to be used. Gluttony sees the other person as a threat to its horde. Love, however, desires a personal encounter. Inherent in love is the desire for the dignity and appreciation of the other person. Love sees that person as a fellow citizen of the community.
Lust and Gluttony are self-centeredly focused. Love is outwardly focused; first on Christ and then because of the Love, Mercy and Grace of Christ, love is focused outward toward others and the world.
The kind of action which Lust and Gluttony display are directly opposite to the actions of love. Love is the real thing that lasts and makes life possible. Lust and Gluttony are fleeting, shallow, having no true substance.
Living with Lust and Gluttony is like being shackled to a lunatic. Lust and Gluttony are like craving for salt when you’re dying of thirst. Lust and Gluttony confuse intensity with intimacy and consumption with satisfaction.
B. Don’t get me wrong today. I’m not trying to condemn anyone. Neither Lust nor Gluttony call for condemnation. All of us here in this Sanctuary are struggling with something and we already feel enough shame and enough guilt. That’s not what this is about.
This is about liberation. This is about freedom. This is about meaning and purpose. This is about shedding the burden and losing guilt. This is about gaining life. This is about the Love of God as expressed and empowered in and through the life of Christ.
The first step in overcoming the pernicious power of Lust and Gluttony is to admit you have a problem and confess it to God. “Lord, look at me. This is how I feel. This is the hunger I have. These are my thoughts and fantasies. Lord, please release me from their grasp. Through your Great Love in Christ and through the power of your Holy Spirit remind me, who I am; to whom I belong and whom I serve.”
C. One of the best ways to remind ourselves of these things is to do something for someone else.
I read a story about a cobbler, a man who owned a shoe store years ago. It was during winter and he noticed a barefoot little boy outside the baker’s shop next door. The boy was standing on a grate where the exhaust from the ovens was blowing the hot air out of the bakery. The boy was trying to stay warm. Here was this shoe store owner surrounded by all of those shoes, but he struggled with what he ought to do about that little boy. If he helped the little boy, how many more would come expecting his help. He felt for the boy but he just couldn’t afford to help everybody.
While he was debating with himself, a woman walked by. She bent down and said something that made the boy smile. Then she took him by the hand and brought him into the shoe store. There she bought him some brand new shoes and socks. The boy, still shivering from the cold put on the warm socks and shoes and then blurted out to the woman, “Are you God’s wife?”
She smiled and said, “No, I’m just one of His children.”
The little boy smiled and said, “Well, I knew you must be kin to God somehow.”
Doing something for others without thought of recompense or thanks is one of the most freeing things we can do. It is the greatest weapon against self-absorption there is.
When we live like our citizenship is in heaven as Paul says in verse 20, it shows; it touches others. It changes lives. And it helps us take the focus off of us. It helps us keep the focus on Christ and serving God through Christ. When we focus on Christ, Paul says, just as “God raised the Lord and [God] will also raise us by his power.”
So, you see, the only cure, the only solution, the only weapon we have against Lust and Gluttony and all the Seven Deadly is the Love of Christ. His Sacrifice on the Cross defeated them. But unless we let the Love of Christ control our hearts and souls, it does no good. If we let it sit on the shelf like an unopened present, it is nothing but potential. And doesn’t do any good. It’s like the guy whose radiator froze up during a long cold spell. He was griping and said, “But I had a gallon of anti-freeze in the trunk of the car.” It could have been sitting on the hood of the car or on the radiator itself and it still wouldn’t have done any good because he didn’t use it. He didn’t put it in.
All Christ wants is an opportunity to enter your life and to fill all the spaces of your life with His unconditional love. He wants to fill you with all you need to face down Gluttony and Lust. Get rid of the capital “I” in your life. Ask Christ to be the center and focus of your life.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.