What the Bible Says About Food – 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 – “Everything is Permissible, but not Everything is Helpful”

What does the Bible say about food

Thank you for joining me in this search of what the Bible says about food. If you missed the introduction, click here, the first lesson (“Do Not Worry about What You Will Eat”), click here, the second lesson (“Do Not Labor for Food that Perishes”) click here, or the third lesson (“He Declared All Foods Clean”), click here.

Let’s dig in:

Today’s verse:

Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food,” but God will do away with both of them. – 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

In context: Paul is using these verses to set up talking about sexual immorality and how our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Verse 18 says, “every other sin a person commits outside the body” except sexual immorality.

My Thoughts: Have you ever wondered if your food choices were sin? I’m not talking about gluttony or being enslaved to food (in that case the actions are a reflection of a sinful heart condition, not the act of eating itself – in my opinion). I’m talking instead about eating the frozen chicken nuggets or the mac & cheese. I have often wondered, where should I draw the line?

For me, this passage tells me that eating certain foods are not sins against the body. What goes into our mouth does not defile us in and of itself (Matthew 15:11).

But verse 12 also says that not everything is helpful. Perhaps in my eating choices I should not look as much toward avoiding certain foods as much as looking to choose food that is beneficial to my body. But I also understand that if I choose the frozen chicken nuggets one day when I’m in a hurry that I’m not sinning. I simply haven’t chosen what was most beneficial.

Another thing we see in these verses is that eating can become a sin issue when we’re enslaved by it.

We could be enslaved by unhealthy habits. We eat more than our bodies need (the Bible condemns gluttony a couple dozen times). We eat for comfort. We’re addicted to certain foods. We habitually choose the easy, processed foods because preparing whole foods takes too much time that we don’t think we have (raising my hand here).

But perhaps could some of us be enslaved by healthy habits, too? In our hearts, our healthy eating can become an idol itself when we chase after it above all else. We can become enslaved to worry with what we cannot afford to grow ourselves or buy organic.

We can also become so tied up in growing our own food that it leaves us little time to invest in the lives of those around us. I do often wonder, is God pleased that I’ve got this enormous garden that takes up a lot of time? Wouldn’t he prefer my time be more free to serve and invest in the lives of others? Just thinking out loud here.

So, what is the answer? I think it’s an individual one. God knows my tendency to be both enslaved by unhealthy habits and to be enslaved by chasing after healthy ones. And he knows yours. We both should allow God’s word to examine our hearts in this matter – and be ready to surrender to the direction he is leading us.

Chime in: Do you have a tendency to be enslaved to unhealthy or healthy eating habits?

Reflect: How can you put into practice making more “beneficial” choices in what you eat, without becoming enslaved in one area or the other?


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What the Bible Says About Food – Mark 7:19 – “He Declared All Foods Clean”

What does the Bible say about food

Thank you for joining me in this search of what the Bible says about food. If you missed the introduction, click here, the first lesson (“Do Not Worry about What You Will Eat”), click here, or the second lesson (“Do Not Labor for Food that Perishes”) click here.

Let’s dig in:

Today’s verse:

And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”(Thus he declared all foods clean.) Mark 7:18-19 ESV

In context: The Pharisees taught that what a person does or eats or allows to enter his body (in this passage through not washing hands before eating) affects a person’s spiritual state, making him unclean. Jesus countered and said that nothing outside a person going into him defiles him. Only what is in the heart defiles a person.

My Thoughts: I don’t think this passage gives permission to eat anything indiscriminately. The point is that what I eat will not affect whether I am right with God spiritually.

I’ve seen too many “real food” blogs in the name of Jesus imply that our eating organic, whole foods is a sign of some sort of righteousness. They don’t say that, of course, but the undertones are definitely there. And I don’t think it’s purposeful. Attempts to please God through what we do is not new. The Pharisees did it and took it to a self-righteous extreme. But even those with the purest of hearts in the New Testament asked Jesus “What must we do?” (Luke 3:10, John 6:28)

It’s much easier to check “take care of my body” off my righteous checkbox than to live resting knowing Jesus IS our righteousness and he is enough.

We know God created these bodies and called them good. We know God created whole foods and called them good. We know God knows what makes our bodies work most efficiently.

I have a desire to take care of my body so I can be healthy into my sunset years simply to be able to serve God all the more. There is nothing wrong with that.

But we can very easily slip into this prideful existence where we are “above” those who choose to eat Cheetos and Coke for lunch.  We can begin to look down on those with medical conditions typically caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. All of this pride slips slowly and undetectably because it starts with good intentions.

Isn’t that how the crafty serpent has always worked?

There’s this unfortunate chasm that is separating the “haves” and the “have-nots” once again. The “haves” can afford to eat healthy, and the “have-nots” are thankful when there’s food on the table. With which would Jesus be most pleased? A plate full of roasted organic veggies on the table of a person prideful in her ability to grow or buy it, or a bowl of Ramen Noodles on the table of the person who was thankful to God for the quarter He provided to buy that meal?

I think his reaction would be the same as it was to the Pharisees in Mark 7.

Chime in: How can we balance trying to make healthy choices while not looking down on those who do not? Do you struggle with not being able to afford to eat as healthy as you’d like? How does this verse give us the freedom to know that we aren’t less right with God based on what we eat?

Reflect: What is your first thought when you’re in line to check groceries out and next to you is a person with a basket full of cheap, unhealthy food? Is it judgment? Or is it compassion?


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What the Bible Says About Food – John 6:27- “Do Not Labor for Food That Perishes”

What does the Bible say about food

Thank you for joining me in this search of what the Bible says about food. If you missed the introduction, click here, or the first lesson (“Do Not Worry about What You Will Eat”), click here.

Let’s dig in:

Today’s verse:

“Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.” John 6:27 HCSB

In context: Jesus had just fed the 5,000 and the people were seeking him to get more food. He spent a great amount of time telling them that he is the bread of life and their true needs would be met by trusting in him. Verses 49 and 58 reiterate that their ancestors ate manna in the desert provided by God and still died. Jesus, in this passage, continually squelched their concern for tangible food and pointed them to their true need of him.

Apply: This passage teaches that we are not to spend the focus of our energy laboring for physical food in comparison to seeking Jesus and laboring for Kingdom purposes. Jesus didn’t even acknowledge their physical need in this particular passage.

Question:

  1. Does this mean I am not to “labor” for organic food?
  2. If I had extra money in my budget, does this tell me I should put it toward something of spiritual value and not spend extra on organic?

My Thoughts: Last week I canned quarts of spaghetti sauce using tomatoes, garlic, basil, and oregano from my garden. With the exception of a few ingredients, you might consider it “organic.”

But technically, growing my own food is labor, as is working at any job that provides money to purchase food. We all need food.  So what should we make of this passage?

The key to understanding this passage is realizing that Jesus is making a comparison. Labor in itself isn’t considered something to be avoided. In several parables, Jesus implies that work is good (Matt. 21:28, Matt. 25:16), Paul himself worked in order to spare others from having to provide for him (Acts 18:3, 1 Cor. 4:12, 2 Thess. 3:8), and believers are commanded to work to provide for their own needs and the needs of others (Eph. 4:28, 2 Thess. 3:10).

As you can see, other Scripture shows us that laboring for food isn’t to be avoided, which underscores that the intent of the current passage is to draw a comparison.

The question Christians must ask ourselves is this: Am I more concerned with the quality of my food or of advancing the kingdom of God? It is so easy to let fear drive our choices. It’s easy to make our quest for healthy eating (in the name of “temple maintenance” – a verse we’ll study later that I believe has been taken out of context in many of the real food discussions) yet not quest to be spiritually cleansed by the washing of the Spirit in our lives.

It’s easy to concern ourselves so much with healthy eating yet not seek to be spiritually cleansed by the washing of the Spirit in our lives.

Here’s a quick “heart-check” that might help us bring this passage to light in our lives:

  • Do we make time to cook from scratch but don’t make time for Bible reading and prayer each day?
  • Do we stretch our grocery budget to accommodate more expensive organic food but don’t give the first portion of our income to our local church or stretch our pocketbook to give to the needy?
  • Do we spend more energy worrying about what food goes into your body than we do what media influences we consume that taint our minds?
  • Does our fear over what we eat outweigh our trust in God’s sovereignty over our lives?

And for those who have not surrendered their lives to Jesus, the point of this passage is even more clear. Food, like our bodies, will perish. But Jesus is the spiritual food that when we “feast” on Him (accept his sacrifice for our sins that lead to spiritual death), we will have life that never ends.

Chime in: So, regarding the questions I posed above, should I pay a premium price at the grocery store for an organic apple? Or should I choose to buy grass-fed beef compared to the cheaper beef that was not raised the way God intended (see Food, Inc. for more details on this)? What do you think? Do you think this verse applies to the food we put in our grocery cart?

Reflect: Am I “laboring” more for food that perishes or for the kingdom of God?


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What the Bible Says About Food – Matthew 6:25 – “Don’t Worry…About What You Will Eat”

What does the Bible say about food

Let’s get one thing out of the way. I don’t know all there is to know about this subject. I’m still searching myself in many areas, but I know that wisdom begins with God (Proverbs 2:6, James 1:5). I may never know all I need to know, but prayerfully searching Scripture is the only way to start. (If you haven’t read the first post in this series on why I’m even studying this topic, click here.)

Format: In each of these posts, I’ll share a Scripture, the context of that Scripture, an application, and any questions that came up in my personal study.

My request of you: Please chime in! If you have a thought on one of my questions, I really want to hear it! If you have questions of your own, please share! This is a journey we’re all on together.

Let’s dig in:

Today’s verse:

“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25 HCSB

In context: Jesus is teaching about not seeking money and how you can’t serve God and money. Then he gives the example of how the birds are fed by God. In verse 31-32 it says again, “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Then verse 33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” and verse 34 says, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (HCSB)

Background: Most people of this time had very little and were dependent on seasonal rains for their food. Compared to most of us, they had much more reason to worry. Long-term health wasn’t even an issue on their minds when having any food at all was in question from year to year. Most of us cannot fathom this, yet Jesus told them not to worry.

Apply:

  1. The kingdom of God is top priority.
  2. God knows better than anyone what our bodies need.
  3. He will supply those needs.
  4. He doesn’t want us to worry about what tomorrow may bring (illness, etc.)

Question: In seeking first the kingdom of God, is it not logical to want a healthy body to be able to do that work for as long as possible?

Chime in: What are your thoughts on this Scripture? Why do you think Jesus called those who worry about their physical needs idolaters?


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Fear: My Constant Companion (An Introduction to What the Bible Says About Food)

What does the Bible say about food

I’ve never been a fearful person. But lately, it seems that fear has been creeping into my thoughts, ever so slyly.

Maybe it’s because I’m in my mid-30s now and I’m having a hard time coming to grips with slight changes in my body and stamina.

Maybe it’s because despite my effort for our family to eat healthier, I’ve only taken baby steps. Mac & cheese and processed chicken nuggets are staples in our house. We don’t buy organic most of the time and I don’t think our removal of margarine or nitrate-laden hot dogs make up for the processed products that line our pantry shelves. I know many of the facts about the food we eat, facts that are downright frightening.

Maybe it’s because I watched my father-in-law battle and lose a fight with cancer far too young and I’m currently watching my mom battle cancer as well.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen lives turned upside down due to an unseen diagnosis, no matter how healthy they were.

My heart vacillates between a trust that God has it all under control and a desire to make changes to ensure a healthier temple to serve Him.

And there’s the reality that if I decided for my family to eat as healthy as possible, our grocery bill would double. Surely with so many people in the world and our country and our city going hungry, God wouldn’t want us to pony up the extra money it would take to eat healthy when that money could go to helping others whose bellies are literally empty?

Yet the health crisis in our country clearly points to our diets in many cases (not all, of course). Regarding this wide scale trend, do we not reap what we sow? When we as Americans begin changing the way God made our food to grow (think: GMOs), will not the natural course of these actions produce illness? The tsunami of health issues hasn’t even come on our radar. It will be my generation and even more so my children’s generation that will bear the brunt.

It frightens me.

The New Testament has a lot, actually, to say about food. In fact, I was so riddled with this topic two years ago that I did an in-depth study on food in the New Testament myself. In skimming my notes, I realized I need to go back to the Word.

My fear is a red flag that something isn’t right. My God has not given me a spirit of fear but one of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) That’s where I have to start, by training my mind with the timeless word of God.

Join with me over the next few weeks as I share with you my personal journey through the New Testament (and some in the Old) on what the Scripture says about food. I don’t have all the answers; in fact, my personal study included a verse or passage, application, and questions that I haven’t answered yet. I hope you’ll chime in as we explore God’s word in this difficult area together.

What about you? Do you struggle in these areas as well?


 

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Serve Session 5: What Trumps Serving

ALL TO ACTIONIn this second session on diakoneo, we look at what is viewed in Scripture as more important than serving others.

As you view the video, consider the following questions:

1. Do you tend to get more irritable when serving others having not spent time with Jesus? Can you tell a difference in your spirit when you serve others after having spent time with him?

2. What do you feel more gifted in: preaching of the Word or serving practical needs? In considering the example in Acts 7, how can you use this model to keep the priority of the Word of utmost importance while still valuing the critical work of serving?

3. Do you know your spiritual gift(s)? How are you using it(them) to serve others as referenced in 1 Peter 4:10-11?


View previous Serve lessons here.


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Coming June 9th! Summer in the Vine Bible reading series!  Click here to sign up for summer devotionals straight to your inbox!

Summer(1)

A Fruitful Summer for the Busy Mom

Summer(3)

Do you want to have a fruitful summer? Last year, as a recent stay-at-home mom, having a fruitful summer was the last thing on my mind.  I was simply aiming to survive the summer with a 6 and 2 year old.  This year, with a little more experience under my belt, I’m a little more relaxed.  I’m still making the chore charts and the daily schedule to provide some structure and routine, but I’m more focused on making this summer fruitful.

The fruitful summer I’m hoping for is one that isn’t too noticeable immediately.  I’m not looking to take the most exquisite vacations or entertain my kids in the best way possible or even take the “high road” by not allowing electronic devices.  Instead, I’m hoping to make this summer fruitful in my heart and in the hearts of my children.

This is not going to happen by reading the most inspiring blog post or the best parenting book or by checking off a list of “good mommy” to-do’s.

It’s going to happen by staying connected to the Vine.  Only through a desperately dependent, hopeless-without-it relationship with Jesus will I ever have the strength and wisdom to parent my children well this summer.  Even then, I’m well aware how quickly I can succumb to failure, but I’m ready to accept grace and model it, teaching forgiveness by asking for it.

Summer is when it’s the easiest to get lazy in my relationship with God.  If we don’t have to be anywhere early, it’s tempting to sleep in instead of arise for my time with him.  But I know through too many bad days that neglecting my relationship with God simply isn’t an option if I’m going to minister to and love my children this summer.

Can you relate?

I have a feeling many of us moms are in the same boat, even if we’re not home with children. Schedules change for working moms as well.  When I was a working mom I spent more time with my kids over the summer because of vacations, long weekends, and decreased scheduled commitment.

If you want to stay connected with God and his Word this summer, may I invite you to join the Summer in the Vine Bible reading and devotional plan?  All it takes is your email address and you’ll receive a Bible reading plan and devotionals straight to your inbox.  You can structure your time with God based on your individual schedule, but that regular email will provide an opportunity for daily time with God.

The Bible reading plans and devotionals will be catered to a busy summer schedule (which means they will be short).  You’ll hear from Karen Jordan, Mandy Kilbourn, Cynthia McCutcheon, Sandra Hardage, and myself on topics that are unique to our interests.

The first email goes out Monday, June 9th. Click here to sign up and stay connected to the Vine!


 

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