Full Belly or Full Life?

“My child never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live man years, and your life will be satisfying.” Proverbs 3:1 (NLT)

“Your life will be satisfying.” 

I wonder if we seek satisfying moments instead of a satisfying life. A short view perspective can turn into chronic pleasure seeking moment to moment. Taking the long view is a steady pursuit of big picture fulfillment that allows moments to pass that are less than ideal.

How can we have a satisfying life? By knowing and living God’s words whether it makes the moment pleasurable or not. This applies to our food choices. God’s Word, the Bible, has a lot to say about what we eat and, more importantly, what we put our faith in. 

Food, for example, is easy to trust for a good time. It doesn’t, however, bring good things. God brings good things. Food is sometimes a good thing, but it is an Object not a Provider. It’s easy to get that mixed up because food can be so good. Nevertheless, it is and inanimate object, a created thing for us to enjoy, NOT a creator of good things.

James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (NIV)

Have you ever noticed that food can change on us? It can be so good to us for a long time, and we start to trust it to give us fulfillment. This faith in food can last for years, even decades. Then it happens. BAM. We are diagnosed with diabetes, or obesity, or heart disease, or high cholesterol… (fill in the blank.) Suddenly, food starts to work against us and we realize it is no longer the friend we thought it was… but we can’t believe it. We can’t give it up. It’s a slow change at first, this food becoming foe. First we gain a little weight and can’t seem to control the effects of the “goodness of food.” Maybe we get a bum ankle or knee under the excessive weight. Maybe fatty liver shows up in a blood test, or we are pre-diabetic out of the blue. We don’t stop eating, though, because we can’t bear the thought food isn’t the solution- we can’t face the cold hard fact that food has become the problem. The the issues grow, obesity, diabetes, anxiety, pills upon pills, shots, lack of energy, and yet we continue to believe food is our friend, when the truth is clear. Food has turned on us, like a shifting shadow, to become our biggest enemy (in the way we are using it.) 

When it comes to food, perspective plays a huge role in satisfying moments and subsequently, a satisfying life. What do we truly believe is satisfying? I’ve found we have to go without our “comfort food pacifiers” to figure that out. At times this means being hungry. 

Jesus was presented with this question, of what really matters, what really brings satisfaction, when he was hungry… really hungry. 

Jesus was fasting for 40 days before he launched his ministry. The Bible says in Matthew 4:4 that “He became very hungry.”  It was in this state, Satan came to him and tempted him to turn the stones to bread. Jesus was tempted by Satan concerning three issues (all based in pride that he was God’s Son) 1) Food 2) Security 3) Money and Power. These are common stumbling blocks for all of us, the first being food. 

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

Jesus, who is our example, quoted scripture and used the word of God he had stored in his heart when he was tempted. The scripture he used comes from Deuteronomy 8:3: 

“Yes He (God) humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes form the mouth of the Lord…So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water with fountains and springs that gush outing the valleys and the hills.” Deut. 8:3,7

Jesus was battling hunger, and Satan temped him to eat at a time that wasn’t right, with a food that wasn’t right for that moment. Do we think restricting our food is going be easy? It wasn’t for Jesus. Why would it be for us? We can however, follow in Jesus’s foodsteps. Here are two ways to get started:

  1. take charge of your food intake. This may take the form of fasting, but it can also mean fasting from certain foods or restricting food intake to a healthy and healing quantity and quality. Don’t know what that is for you? Call your doctor or make an appointment with a nutritionist.
  2. Use scripture and prayer to help you endure healthy hunger. It will get hard to resist unhealthy food. Why? Because it’s everywhere, it feels like everyone is eating and using it, and it has become a sticky, deceptive idol that eventually turns on us like a shifting shadow delivering us right into the hands of disease and death. Don’t allow yourself to be delivered into the hands of disease and death. 

Food is a tool for health. When we turn it into a god, it becomes a traitor.

It’s time to put food in a secondary place, and put God in his rightful first place. Why? Because food may give us a full belly, but God gives us a full life.

Questions for reflection during your prayer time with the Lord:

Ask God if you have made food an idol.

How will you know if you have made food an idol? Have you placed you trust in food for fun, fulfillment and peace among other things? 

Is there a food (or foods) it is time to stop eating (fast) from? For how long? Ask God for wisdom and willingness around certain foods that are unhealthy.  

Take some time to reflect on these words from John Piper:

“Fasting reveals where the heart is. And when the heart proves to love God more than bread, Satan does not have the foothold he would if our heart was in love with the earthly things like bread.”*

Is it time to put God first? How can you start putting God first today? A satisfying LIFE awaits.

This is Day 9 in “Eating Through the Proverbs,” a Bible study about food, by Julia Fikse, Functional Medicine Health Coach ©2019.  

*https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/man-shall-not-live-on-bread-alone

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