Last post explained that food is amoral or spiritually neutral. There are no foods that – at least for spiritual reasons – Christians should avoid.
In determining how much to give some some Christians say, “God expected ten percent under the Mosaic Law, so that’s the guideline I use.” That’s fine (except that God expected much more than 10%), and many apply a similar principle to food: “God is wise. He forbid certain foods under the Mosaic Law, so it’s best to avoid them.” Again, nothing wrong with that. Pork is the most well-known prohibited food, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone saying, “Bacon is healthy. You should eat it.”
If you do choose to avoid certain foods, please accept these encouragements…
- Don’t tell people they shouldn’t eat certain foods, because the New Testament doesn’t tell them that. The New Testament tells people the opposite.
- Don’t let your restrictions lead to self-righteousness. When people think they shouldn’t eat certain foods, sometimes they look down on others who don’t share the same convictions. Interestingly, 1 Corinthians 8:9-11 describes people who feel like they can’t eat certain foods as being “weak.”
- Don’t let your restrictions be a distraction. Romans 14:17 says, “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Keep your focus on the “weightier matters.” Jesus described it as “straining out a gnat, but swallowing a camel.” God doesn’t care what you put in your mouth, but He cares what comes out of your mouth. How you talk to your spouse, children, parents, friends is infinitely more important than avoiding certain foods. Why is this important to keep in mind? Because it is much easier to focus on the physical (food) than the spiritual.
- Don’t neglect the the Law of Christ trying to keep the Mosaic Law. Twice Paul said the Law is fulfilled in the word “love” (Rom 13:8-10, Gal 5:14). People’s view of food makes them unlike Christ when they become contentious and hostile.
Two restrictions on food…
1. God doesn’t care what you eat, but He cares how much you eat
It’s surprising how much attention is given to certain foods, but how little attention is given to overeating. Gluttony seems to be an acceptable sin. The common argument is, “God said to avoid these foods because they’re unhealthy!” If we’re talking about health, what about obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc?
- Proverbs 23:20-21 Do not mix with winebibbers,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.
- Proverbs 28:7b A companion of gluttons shames his father.
Some people who wouldn’t consider a slice of bacon will gorge themselves at the table. The New Testament has a lot to say about self-control, and these verses apply to our appetites.
2. God doesn’t care what you eat, but He cares if fellowship is broken
When your liberty might stumble a brother or sister in Christ, then you don’t eat that food:
- Romans 14:21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
- 1 Corinthians 8:13 If food makes my brother stumble, I will [not] eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
If Christians feel convicted others should put themselves under the same restrictions in their presence to prevent offense. Take the spiritual high ground to maintain unity.
It’s wonderful how God’s Word provides instruction for maintaining health, joy, and peace in the body of Christ!
Discuss: What approach do you take to food? Do you apply restrictions based on the Mosaic Law? Have you had to restrict yourself for the sake of unity? Share below.