Why Do We All Forget about Gluttony at Christmas?

  • Dawn Wilson Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2016 19 Dec
Why Do We All Forget about Gluttony at Christmas?

Gluttony is the sin no one wants to talk about on a holiday. It’s as if one event on a calendar suddenly becomes more important than everything we know about healthy eating and self-control. 

When I asked someone the question, “Why do we all forget about gluttony at Christmas?” and mentioned I would write on that topic, their response was, “Why would you want to do THAT?” They stared at me with a look of horror, as if I was opening a door to let some medieval monster enter and make everyone uncomfortable.

“No one talks about gluttony anymore.”


“And especially during Christmas!”

Why not? 

Does Christmas—or any holiday for that matter—give us an excuse to sin?

And make no mistake about it, gluttony is sin.

I don’t want to be the aforementioned medieval monster, bringing up intolerable restrictions and spoiling everyone’s buffets. But I also want to remind you that there are good reasons the Bible warns God’s children not to become gluttons.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines gluttony as “excess in eating or drinking; greedy or excessive indulgence.” The word comes from the Latin, gluttire, meaning to gulp down. It’s swallowing to the point of extravagance or waste. It’s not about a one-time event; it’s about an ongoing, sinful habit.

In other words, gluttony isn’t simply about eating too many desserts at the holiday table. It’s more about the heart. And I don’t mean the heart that might give us trouble if we eat too much, too often, and too foolishly.

Gluttony is about a person’s core—the “heart” that is the seat of our desires. We truly can idolize food. Paul warns about those whose “god is their belly” (Philippians 3:19). 

I struggle with gluttony; I know what food addiction to the point of idolatry feels like and how it looks. I can worship a simple roast chicken as easily as Crème Brulee. 

The question is, am I seeking comfort and satisfaction in a pile of food—or even a momentary bite—or am I seeking intimacy and satisfaction in my faithful God? 

As Lysa TerKeurst wrote in Made to Crave, “God made us capable of craving so we’d have an unquenchable desire for more of Him, and Him alone. Nothing changes until we make the choice to redirect our misguided cravings to the only one capable of satisfying them.” 

I’ve been on a year-long journey to understand why I am a glutton. The Lord has graciously taught me many things about this sin. First, I learned over-indulgence was compromising my health. Then I realized it hindered my energy and ability to pursue all God called me to do. 

And I learned that I cannot conquer this addiction without Him. Jesus made it clear, “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:15). I must abide in Him through the work of the Holy Spirit to enjoy daily victories. Self-control is a work of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). 

Although I’ve grown in understanding (and shrunk in pounds), I still get in “glutton mode” sometimes. Personal “triggers” tempt me to forget everything I’ve learned about my besetting sin. And I so quickly forget to run to the Lord who desires to conquer this stronghold in my life (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).

I still don’t like the word “gluttony.” I prefer the milder term, “over-eating.” But it’s the same heart issue. Christians often think of overeating as a more socially acceptable habit, but it’s clear from Scripture God doesn’t wink at our indulgence.

In the Bible, gluttons and drunkards were often grouped together (as in Deuteronomy 21:20)—and both are evidence of a life out of control. 

Solomon wrote a lot about gluttony. Maybe with all his wealth he could afford the pleasures of food anytime, anywhere. In his wisdom he said drunkards and gluttons will “come to poverty” (Proverbs 23:20-21). He also said “a companion of gluttons shames his father” (Proverbs 28:7). People trapped in gluttony suffer embarrassment, and even those around them can suffer. 

The Jews considered gluttony a serious sin. The Pharisees even accused Jesus of being a glutton—along with some other false charges (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34). 

Our culture today is obsessed with thin bodies, but even a skinny person can be a glutton. Remember, it’s all about the heart. 

When I am in glutton mode, I might be overeating because I have a hungry soul and need some stillness before the Lord. I might be trying to satisfy my stomach “god.” Or I might be eating mindlessly until I end up saying, “What just happened?” as if I’m a helpless victim. 

The truth is, victory over gluttony is all about choices for health and healing, and choices made to align with God’s Word and will.

“If we want to conquer our cravings,” TerKeurst wrote, “we’ll have to redirect them to God.” 

That requires humility and faith. Overcoming gluttony begins with a new mindset, a new perspective, seeing the big eternal picture of God’s purposes for our lives and ministry now, and preparing for our future with Him. God wants to transform our thinking (Romans 8:6; 12:2) and He desires we walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). He wants us to become self-disciplined and eat to honor Him and bring Him glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). 

Christians are called to practice good stewardship in every area, and that includes food choices. We are not to dishonor God in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and we’re not to spend foolishly on over-indulgence—money that could be more wisely spent in ministry, perhaps even in feeding others. In short, we’re to be careful stewards of all God has entrusted to us. 

Almost a year ago, I began this journey to give God my gluttony. Now, as I enjoy the Christmas season, I am living out a powerful truth: Celebrations don’t have to include massive amounts of food—just massive amounts of joy!

This is my prayer for the holiday season:

Father God, help me fill up with a deeper understanding of Your love and grace. As I approach each celebration, help me pause to seek You instead of panicking, and show me how to prepare my heart and mind to make wise choices. Help me celebrate every small victory too. Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness and grace. Amen.


Dawn Wilson and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists author and radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, and also publishes LOL with God and Upgrade with Dawn and writes for Crosswalk.com. Dawn also travels with her husband in ministry with the International School Project.

Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com

Publication date: December 19, 2016

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