Talks by Ed Tarkowski


GLUTTON - 2151. zalal, zaw-lal'; a prim. root [comp. H2107]; to shake (as in the wind), i,.e. to quake; fig. to be loose morally, worthless or prodigal:--blow down, glutton, riotous (eater), vile.

The meaning of the word "glutton" gives the sense of instability: to shake as in the wind without any restraint. Basically it seems to manifest through a lack of a standard, through a lack of self-discipline and self-control, through a desire that self must be pleased regardless of any standard.

Gluttony - Not Just Overeating

As we will see, gluttony does not just have to do with overeating. It is excess in anything. One example is the phrase, "he's a glutton for punishment," meaning persistence in a thing where one gets harmed, but yet one perseveres in it.

Gluttony And Lawlessness

It is a result of lawlessness where gluttony, rebellion, disobedience and the like just walk in and take over. Gluttony contributes to lawlessness because gluttony is excess, and that excess indulges the self and leads to a lack of self-control. The time or activity that one spends glutting himself takes away time from other things, and brings forth a life of irresponsibility. In order to justify the time spent on whatever consumes him, the glutton can't be wrong because that might infringe on the freedom to do what he wants. Therefore, when things go awry, everyone else is responsible for the problems. The glutton has to fill himself with what he wants to do to satisfy self, and this is usually done at the expense of others.

Holman's Bible Dictionary: Glutton

GLUTTON One habitually given to greedy and voracious eating. Gluttony was associated with stubbornness, rebellion, disobedience, drunkenness, and wastefulness (Deut. 21:20). A more general meaning for the Hebrew term as a "good-for-nothing" (Prov. 28:7 TEV) is reflected in some translations: wastrel (Deut. 21:20 REB); profligate (Deut. 21:20 NIV; Prov. 28:7 REB); riotous (Prov. 28:7 KJV). When Jesus was accused of being a "glutton and wine-drinker" (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34), it was in this expanded sense of being one given to loose and excessive living. The Bible knows gluttony makes one sleepy and leads to not working and poverty (Prov. 23:21).

The sins associated with gluttony war against that harmony between man and God and man and man. It is basically a sin in which one lives to please self. It is associated with:

Stubbornness - This is, "I am going to do things my way and that's it - period." This is the enforcer to control situations in order to have one's way to live or do as they please.

Rebellion - Gluttony wars against self-control. Rebellion is going off the set standard and disrupting the harmony between God and man. It is going against the normal use of things that God has given to man.

Disobedience - A refusal to submit to God and His word concerning excess, such as don't be filled with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.

Drunkenness - excess; filling the need for something lacking inside one's self. I remember when I used to play computer games. I would do it 24 hours a day. I was to go to Cleveland clinic once and kept playing even while Mary was warming up the car. Excess does not necessarily mean the consumption of food or drink.

Wastefulness - where there is excess, there is waste.

The Seriousness Of Gluttony In The Old Testament

Deu 11:32 And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day.

God was very serious about His commands under the Old Testament laws and commands. Because of the grace we live in, I don't think we realize the harshness of God's Old Testament commands. In Deuteronomy 21, we read about the glutton:

Deu 21:18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
Deu 21:19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
Deu 21:20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
Deu 21:21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

When I read this, I didn't see a lot in it. My reaction was, "So the kid ate a lot and got stoned for it." But, then I had the thought, "Why was he a glutton?" His parents talked to him separately, and chastened him together after he wouldn't listen.

That statement brought a lot of memories back to me. Our kids used to play pillar to post with us. All kids do it. I would say one thing and then they would go to the Mary and ask the same thing, and sometimes, we would become divided and arguing while they then controlled the situation. When that was allowed, the house fell so to speak: a house divided against itself cannot stand. And there were plenty of times I would like to have stoned some of them myself. Why do kids attempt to split and divide their parents? To divide them. Why divide them? Because then the kids are in control, AND CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT OR GET AWAY WITH SOMETHING. They manipulate to do what they want. Such things can be the seeds of gluttony.

But it seems these parents in Deuteronomy did it right. They spoke to their son and then they were united and of one mind in their chastening. But some kids just remain in their rebellion and go their own way regardless, and because of that rebellion become gluttons and drunkards: eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. They just want to have fun. Well, in Old Testament days, that became literally true apparently because the boy in Deuteronomy refused to listen and became loose morally, worthless and a prodigal. He had no self-control.

The Prodigal In The New Testament

What a difference in the parable of the prodigal in the New Testament. A prodigal is a glutton, meaning riotous living, according to the Old Testament definition (Proverbs 28:7) and it brings this parable to mind:

Luke 15:11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: Luke
15:12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
Luke 15:13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

Riotous living. The word "riotous" means, "excess." That easily could be drunkenness, vileness, an immoral life style and gluttony, anything that is done in excess, beyond the normal limits.

Luke 15:14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

This verse from Proverbs aptly fits this very description of what happened to the prodigal:

Prov 23:21 KJV "For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags."

Luke goes on:

Luke 15:15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
Luke 15:16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
Luke 15:17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

From riches to rags, rags stained with the pig sty of his day. This kid was not under his Father's authority because of age, but what he did was a sign of poor upbringing, a lack of training in how to handle the things of this world, a lack of training in being responsible and self-controlled. The result was gluttony, excess, a lack of control. Yet, when the Father saw that the son repented, he offered him all he had. The poor kid in Deuteronomy had no chance for repentance because he was under law, and they stoned him. But in this parable, the son was received because the Father saw his changed heart. That's important. What people don't learn because of improper guidance or lack of care, they will learn through what should have been unnecessary trials, problems and tribulations. But when someone is rebellious or whatever and they repent, we need to support them, just like the prodigal's father did:

  1. see their changed heart in order to acknowledge that and encourage them and let them know we love them.

  2. We need to hold out grace and mercy, not react to that change as though we were the law, but as the prodigal's father. The prodigal is a whole story over a period of time, but we can apply the father's response to such times in our lives in the same way.

  3. People don't need the law laid down to them as a constant diet. Preach law and you will get rebellion, and you end up with gluttons and drunkards and the like. The law tells you what to do, but it doesn't do a thing to help you. Personify that, and maybe you'll see what I mean. In fact, though the parents in the OT example talked to their boy, maybe what happened happened because they spoke law to him. Wasn't that the purpose of it? To show us we are sinners?

As Christians, we are very hypocritical. We speak grace and mercy and love and understanding, and proclaim the finished work of the cross and the blood and such, and then go right back and live a life of enforcing law on others. From experience, I can tell you that only breeds a glutton. That doesn't mean we forget the law. There are rules that are needed, but when they are broken, we need to understand that is the purpose of rules as well as the law. Sinners can't keep laws no matter what kind they are. Give a bunch of rules and sooner or later, one of them is going to be broken. When one is broken, that is not always a time of enforcement. Not in Christianity. That may instead be a time of grace to whoever the person is. I see this type situation in three stages:

  1. When a rule is broken, say in the parent/child relationship, there needs to be a punishment enforced that was explained beforehand.

  2. But, the next time, the purpose of rules should be explained, and grace offered to ask Jesus to help the person, that He took the punishment for our disobedience.

  3. Otherwise, we are Moses to them instead of Jesus, and that only breeds the rebellion that turns them into gluttons and drunkards and the like.

A Final Word On Gluttony

Gluttony and all its associations - Avery deadly sin. Deadly towards others, and deadly toward self. A cause of long-lasting pain and heart ache. One might curse and sin is done in a moment, but not so with gluttony. It is a day-in, day-out thing. If it is confined to eating, the person is hurt physically, mentally and spiritually. If it evolves into its associations, others are deeply affected, like the father and mother of the son in Deuteronomy, or the prodigal's father while he was gone. The hurt they feel, the hopelessness of the situation, the tearing of the heart with concern on a daily basis, the concern of an early death. Gluttony - a very deadly sin.

Next Talk

The Bible knows gluttony makes one sleepy and leads to not working and poverty (Prov. 23:21). That is the next area we want to speak about: Slothfulness.