Daily Bible Reading: Proverbs 23: 1-8
Ok, so this passage is pretty intense, and I’m sure you’re wondering why on earth I picked these verses out of so many other possible choices in our Bible. I promise you, the Lord sent these verses right to me for my *own* conviction.
In the first part of this chapter, Solomon wants us to consider the heart of our host when we sit down to eat. It seems innocent enough, but could this dinner (relationship) actually be a danger to our character? Verses 1 – 3 speak about a ruler who wants to have some kind of advantage over you. Verses 6 – 8 talk about someone who is stingy and also seeks some personal advantage by offering something you like or even need – like a good meal. Solomon first urges caution: “Consider diligently what is before thee” when it comes to the ruler, and “Eat thou not” of the man with the evil eye.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “What on earth could be wrong with sharing a meal with a powerful person, or being taken in and sharing food with someone who just wants to do something nice for me?” Sure – everything seems all right, it’s all innocent, morally neutral, and without any serious consequences. Right? You have to eat. Why does it really matter who you eat with? But Solomon pleads with us to consider the motive and character of the host. Apparently, the ruler in these verses has such evil designs, it would be better to “put a knife to your throat” than to let him satisfy your appetite. With the other case, it says “his heart is not with thee.” The outcome of consuming that meal is described in terms of vomiting up everything you just consumed. There are many times in Proverbs when we are warned that circumstances and relationships that seem right to us can contain hidden moral dangers. (Read Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25.)
There are two examples of this exact situation in the Bible. The first we talked about yesterday in the life of Daniel, and the second in the New Testament where our Lord, though hungry, refused the devil’s invitation to make bread out of stones. Hunger is a legitimate need, but it can also be used to our disadvantage. Food can become bait in the hands of the devil and his operatives. Does that mean I should stop eating? Of course not. But, I have to guard myself and consider the approach of even the most subtle temptation.
In 1978, William Arnot wrote a book of essays called “Studied in Proverbs: Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth.” In his section on these passages, he said, “When the appetite is strong, and the food enticing, the danger of sinning and suffering is great – greater than most of us care to observe and acknowledge to ourselves.”
So, now you’re probably thinking, “What is she talking about? I don’t have any friends or relationships that are going to tempt me like the devil tempted Jesus, and no ruler is every going to want to have control over me like Daniel.”
Go back to our devotional from Day 2. Remember that? About “offending others weaker?” Do you have a friend (or acquaintance) who doesn’t want to see you succeed in your weight loss and will tempt you by offering to cook you yummy dinners, or just happens by with dessert? My best friend could make me fatter than anyone else on earth. Seriously. She works at a local restaurant as their head cook, and she cooks the most amazing food. She knows my weakness – chicken casserole – and she would often swing by my house with that day’s leftovers. And, there’s the fact that she only eats junk food, yet she’s a skinny as a rail. Yep, she could cause me to fall faster than anybody else. So, I had to be really, really careful with the food she would bring me or the food she ate when I was around. I had to learn to save the chicken casserole for Ashley or Gene and not eat it myself. I had to force myself to say “No thank you” when she offers me Oreos, Snickers bars, or sweet tea when I’m at her house. And that was NOT easy. I wanted to eat (and drink) it all!
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying she has a heart that’s in the wrong place or that she’s trying to do me in. I don’t believe that for a minute. But, I am saying that I could easily take that food that she’s offered and turn it into a sin in my heart. Remember verse 2? “And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.” – I could easily have binged on the junk food she offered, but that’s not what God wants.
Could sitting down at a full dinner table that could cause you to eat way more than you ever intended? I’ve got another personal example for you. (See?! I told you this study was just for me!!)
My (step) Father-in-Law is also an amazing cook, and he and my Mother-in-law often invite the family over for dinner. I have a love/hate relationship with going to dinner at their house. I love spending time with them. Sammy is so knowledgeable in the things of God that I always learn something while I’m there. I also love that he thinks of each one of us and always has our favorites on his table. BUT, he always has ALL my favorites on the table, and he gets hurt if we don’t clean our plate. I worry so badly about upsetting him that I always always always eat more than I should when I’m there. I have prayed about this diligently, yet every time, I fall into the trap of eating way too much. 🙁 I must learn to practice moderation when I’m there. In the future, I’m going to have to bring my own little salad plate and just use that for my meals. But, again, I worry about hurting his feelings. I think it’s time I sit down and talk to him and my Mother-in-law and just explain that while I love them both dearly, I just can’t eat like I used to. I think that’s the only thing that’s going to help.
I know this devotional has been long, but there was a lot in those verses. I pray that the next time you sit down to eat with family and/or friends, you are able to keep control over yourself and refrain from eating too much or for the wrong reasons (not wanting to hurt your host).
1. Do you ever accept dinner invitations or eat too much because you’re afraid of hurting your host? Have you ever had the feeling someone was out to get you in your weight loss journey?
2. What are some ways we can still strengthen our relationships without food?
Exercise at least 30 minutes and drink 8 glasses of water.