Making a God of the belly. Proverbs 22:20-21

Pro 23:20-21

"Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags." ESV


I read this and see discipline. I see the drunkard and the glutton, so enslaved by their appetite that they cannot resist excess. Where does it lead? It leads to slumber, sloth, and poverty. By contrast, I see the implied discipline of a wise person. Discipline to control bodily appetites. Discipline to exercise moderation, temperance, and control. The applications are obvious. The question is, will I eat and drink like a wise person, or like a fool? More broadly, will I discipline myself, or let me stomach control me?

Matthew Henry sees something else, something I never would have considered - but it is an apt word for our day. Perhaps more appropriate and needed than the warning against gluttony and drunkenness:

Be not a luxurious eater of flesh, not pleased with any thing but what is very nice and delicate, savoury dishes, and forced meat. Some take not only a pleasure, but a pride, in being curious about their diet, and, as they call it, eating well; as if that were the ornament of a gentleman, which is really the shame of a Christian, making a God of the belly.

When Henry says "eating well," he is thinking of fine dishes, like today's stereotypes of filet mignon or escargot. But I can't help but see "eating well" in an even more contemporary context - that of eating healthy, whatever that means this week.

We would all do well to consider the warning Henry sees in the Proverbs. It is a warning against taking a secret pride in our special diet, our "eating well," which "is really the shame of a Christian, making a God of the belly."