Think Twice About Seconds
Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. –Ezekiel 16:49 NIV
Time for true confessions: have you ever eaten so much that you were “good for nothing” afterwards? Whether the annual Thanksgiving Day feast, or eating two or three portions of your favorite meal, we’ve all been there before, right? Food coma. Lethargy. It’s easy to laugh it off, isn’t it?
But upon closer inspection, perhaps being “overfed” is not such a laughing matter.
Last week Dustin Jizmejian and Kyle Bartholic shared how arrogance and pride can make it more difficult to love the poor and needy as Jesus did. If we are self-centered and look down on others, it is highly unlikely that we will live a lifestyle marked by service to the least of these.
But as we see in the above passage in Ezekiel, Sodom was indicted by the Lord for more than just pride. “She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned (emphasis added).” Sodom was a city of affluence, and appetite. And when unrestrained appetites are combined with pride and apathy (“unconcerned”), gross neglect and carnality is sure to follow (see Genesis 19 for the end of the story).
Sobering. Especially when we think about our own country right now. There is plenty of arrogance, feeding of the flesh, and apathy to go around.
So how can we personally fight this cultural trend as God’s people, called to be a blessing to the world, including the poor and needy? Let me suggest three attitudes/actions that can help us in this battle against our fleshly appetites and affluence (I have the scars to prove that this battle is real!).
First of all, adopt a wartime mentality. Until Jesus fully establishes his kingdom, there are bloody battles to be fought daily as souls hang in the balance. John Piper speaks of the difference between being on a luxury liner, and a battleship. It is so easy in our western culture, with the American Dream being espoused constantly, to find ourselves on the wrong kind of ship. Our full rest and comfort will come at a later time. And the fight will be well worth it in this life and the next!
Secondly, fight to remain alert. As Peter said, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) C.S. Lewis used the phrase “fighting trim.” John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, as he was persecuted by enemies of the faith, wrote of the need to “be spartan,” to eat in such a way so as to remain alert and strong.
Third, be a man (or woman) for others. During my time in Texas last week I watched Hacksaw Ridge with my brothers. What a picture of compassion for others, despite the dangers involved! Desmond Doss, as an army medic, continually prayed “O give me one more” as he sought to rescue wounded soldiers from certain death at the hands of their enemies. By God’s grace may this be our heart as well—to keep ourselves engaged on the battle field, alert to the needs around us, and having a growing heart for the poor (physically and spiritually) among us.