1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
This passage is about sin: it is about not doing what you are told, breaking rules, disobeying God. This passage is also about food. It is about what to eat and what not to eat. We take it for granted that God the Creator has the right to tell the man and the woman what they should eat, but in our supermarket age, this is not something that many are willing to put into practice.
For Adam and Eve there was only one plant – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – that they were forbidden to eat, and they were forbidden its fruit because it was bad for them. Today, we have so much more choice, more to tempt us and more to hurt us. And because it is available, we succumb to indiscipline and indulge in foods that are distinctly bad for us.
With so much food available to us, it is easy to be disobedient; to consume more than we can or should take. Overeating used to be considered a weakness of character, nowadays it is more often seen as a social and physical disease. Yet overeating is also a form of disobedience towards God; a rejection of our natural limitations and the spiritual dimension of our physical lives. This disobedience was traditionally known as one of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’: Gluttony.
Gluttony is both dangerous and selfish. Those who hurt themselves in any way cause financial, emotional and physical stress to the families, societies an communities to which they belong. Growing obesity will cost Western governments a fortune in the coming yean drawing funds from other medical conditions that may cause suffering to those who cannot be said to be so responsible for the diseases the endure.
Gluttony endangers our own health. It is tantamount to a rejection of our status as created beings, into whom God has breathed spiritual and physical life. Those who take risks with what they eat indicate that they do not value the life with which they have been blessed. The life we have is not given us solely for our own benefit, and it is not therefore entirely ours to dispose of or abuse. We are as accountable to God for what we eat as for anything else that we do to ourselves or others.
Lord, help us turn away from sin and death to the freedom found in obedience to your word of life. Amen
Please note the 40 days of Lent does not include Sundays. The next reflection is on Monday.
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