Life Of A Disciple In The World 8- The Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony

The Life Of A Disciple In The World
The Seven Deadly Sins
Session 8: Gluttony- Super Size It!

Core Teaching:            Gluttony is the sin of overindulgence.  Usually with food.  It is trying to feed the hunger of our souls with the body’s food.

Session Goals:            This session focuses on the 7th Deadly Sin, Gluttony.  WARNING: There may be a few people in the room who really struggle with eating disorders, medical problems related to food, or addictions to alcohol, tobacco, or even food itself.  Sensitivity is VERY important.  Students should gain a handle on 2 antidotes to Gluttony: feasting and fasting.

Supplies:                        Bibles, Whiteboard/Newsprint, Markers, Masking Tape, Sunday’s Newspaper, a copy of the Student Leader Help Sheet for each discussion/small group leader

Memory Verse:            Matthew 5:6 NRSV

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

(Write on the Board and encourage Youth to memorize this week.)


1 Corinthians 6:12-20 NRSV
Philippians 3:17-21 NRSV
Exodus 13:5-10 NRSV
Isaiah 58:6-11 NRSV


Class Session

Opening Prayer- Student

Announcements, Attendance, and Offering- Teacher


Introduction to the Lesson- Teacher

Gluttony.  Some may think of this Deadly Sin as distinctively American.  We are an obese nation.  We overdo most everything.  Cookbooks AND Diet books are bestsellers.  We even have food channels on cable!  We serve larger and larger meal portions.  We snack more and more.  We drink more and more soda.  And our preoccupation with food has many undesirable physical and emotional effects.

“….it pays to remember, perhaps while ordering that next super-sized meal, that Dante put the gluttonous in the third circle of hell, where they were to endure ‘eternal, cold and cursed heavy rain.’  The slothful, one might consider as one cues up one’s satellite dish, fared even worse; in the fifth circle they would ‘languish in black slime’ of the river Styx.  In the twenty-first century, we have put ourselves in the first circle of fat hell.”

Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser, Mariner Books, 2003. p.176

But this particular Deadly Sin has been around as long as the other six.  Christians have developed particular ways of dealing with food.  Very few people in Jesus’ day would have had access to much food.  There was no “South Galilee Diet Plan” needed.  But there were moral guidelines for the consumption of food.

First, we must become aware of our Gluttony if we are to overcome it.  We must take notice of what we consume and how we consume it.

Second, we must take notice of our preoccupations.  How much time do we spend thinking about food?  Preparing it?  Buying it?  Storing it?  But it is NOT just about food:

“The person who talks too much, the compulsive prattler who invades our quietness and space with voracious and uninterruptible talk, is as much a glutton as the person who can’t stop eating.  Lust and gluttony share many characteristics, but their main agreement lies in this: they have lost all balance and proportion.  They do not see the natural appetites as instincts that have to be balanced by other considerations; instead they allow them a disproportionate role, and they can end by dominating and controlling the whole personality.  The full tragedy lies in the fact that, at the end, the gluttonous and the lustful are deprived of the pleasures that once ensnared them.  The drunkard is driven by a dominating compulsion that lacks all pleasure, and he often ends by seeking oblivion from the torment.”

Seven to Flee, Seven to Follow by Richard Holloway, Mowbray, 1986.  pp. 35-36

In popular usage Gluttony means eating to excess.  From a Christian Theological viewpoint however, the sin of Gluttony always encompasses more.  It considers our motives for eating as well as our attitudes.  Also to be considered is if we eat at the expense of those who hunger.

Today we are going to consider what to do about Gluttony.


Small Group Discussions- Student Leaders

Key Questions (These should be answered during the discussion below)

  1. What is Gluttony?
  2. What do Gluttony and Lust have in common?
  3. How do Christians counter an “Eat, drink, and be merry!” culture?
  4. What does it mean to feast?
  5. What does it mean to fast?
  6. How can we observe the kind of “fast” that Isaiah recommended?

Big Issue

Can anyone remember any commercials that they really liked that advertise food?  Can you remember any jingles (tunes) from these?  What is it you like about the commercials?

Some would say that a sign of how empty our culture has become can be seen in the need to find meaning and satisfaction in stuff.  The more stuff, the less bored we are.  And a great deal of time and money is spent helping us to feel like we need more stuff, especially stuff like food and drink.  (Alcohol and cigarettes certainly fall into this category.)

One of the ways Christians talk about the underlying sin of Gluttony is by saying that the gluttonous person is “Seeking to feed the soul with the body’s food.”  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:8 that “Food will not bring us close to God.”  We might add that neither will feeding any of our instincts, tastes, or passions.

Have you noticed that our empty culture puts us in a double bind?  While encouraging us to “Super Size It!” we are also bombarded with images of “successful” people who are so thin they actually look ill in person.  “Thin is in” as they say.  But Christians know that fat will not condemn you, nor will thin save you.  What we weigh or the shape of our body is of no account in our relationship to Christ.  We are loved and accepted by Christ.

Faith Link

Gluttony is the Twin of Lust– Read 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 to the group.

  • Do you remember some of these verses from the discussion last week about the Deadly Sin of Lust?
  • How might they also apply to Gluttony?

q  Gluttony and Lust share many of the same characteristics.  They are both about misplaced hunger.

q  Gluttony is the mad pursuit of bodily pleasures that can never satisfy us.  The craving for food has been its primary expression.  But the person who does anything to excess is as Gluttonous as the person who overeats.

  • Even though Paul is not speaking exclusively about food in these verses, what do you think his advice would be, based on these verses, about why we should be careful about how and what we consume?
  • Do you know people who over-indulge their appetites?

q  It is important to remember that there can be a number of medical reasons people are over-weight.  So, before we pass judgment on another person, we should first look at our own behavior as Jesus recommended.

  • What do YOU over-indulge in?
  • Does it “Glorify God?”
  • Do you really believe your body is not your own but God’s?  Why? or Why not?
  • How easy is it for the Holy Spirit to dwell in you?  What helps/hurts your openness to the Spirit?

Do You Eat to Live or Live to Eat?– Read Philippians 3:17-21

  • What do you think about Paul inviting the Philippians to “imitate” him?  Does this make him arrogant?
  • Should Paul have invited them to Imitate Christ instead?

q  The gluttonous allow their belly to become their god- paying homage to their appetites, their lust and greed, conspicuous consumption being their extravagant act of praise.  This can mean more than stuffing our faces with food.  It certainly does mean excess consumption of food, drink, drugs, cigarettes, but ALSO all the gadgets and gizmos that are offered to satisfy our every desire.  We claim instant gratification as a right of every person.

  • How do you think Paul tries to reshape people’s thinking about priorities in these verses?

q  When we talk about Gluttony, we are talking about self-indulgence.

  • Do you know people who live an “Eat, drink, and be merry!” lifestyle?  What are they like?
  • How is a Christian different?
  • What might a Christian counter-slogan to “Eat, drink, and be merry!” be?

Feasts Are Not Self Indulgent!- Read Exodus 13:5-10 to the group.

q  Gluttony, like all sins, is a perversion of something good and right.  Eating and drinking are essential to life.  In the Jewish and Christian traditions, Feasts have special meaning.  The people of Israel were always feasting.  So were the early Christians.

  • Do you recognize this feast from Exodus?  Share what you know about the Passover Feast.
  • Why did the Passover Feast become especially important to Christians?

q  If you don’t know, it is because most-likely, Jesus was celebrating the Passover at the Last Supper when he broke bread and shared the cup.  Today we remember theses final acts of Jesus through Holy Communion.

q  We also need to remember about Jesus that he shared in feasts with the people he met.  He also described the Reign of God as being “like” a heavenly banquet where all are fed.

  • How can food/feasts be an aid to Christian fellowship?

q  In  a feast, the focus is on sharing food with others in community, not on feeding ourselves.  It is an antidote to Gluttony.

  • Who do you share meals with?  Do you ever eat alone?

q  Feasting with friends can be an act of gratitude as we celebrate the goodness of a loving God.

  • How do you show your gratitude to God by the way you eat?

“Gluttony connects us neither with others or God.  Gluttony is a solitary act that defeats rather than enhances community.  Excessive eating is solitary, even if others are present.  Feasting needs and builds community.  Gluttony cares little for community.”  Fatal Attraction: Sermons on the Seven Deadly Sins by William R. White, Abingdon Press, 1959, p. 56.

Life Application

Read Isaiah 58:6-11

  • What do you know about fasting?  Discuss it.

q  Fasting is usually going without food for a certain period of time.  Usually no more than a meal, or possibly just a day.  Fasting is NEVER done as a diet plan.  It IS a spiritual exercise.  Some fasts can last more than a day.

  • Have any of you participated in the 30 Hour Famine?  What was it like to fast for 30 hours?  (If you have not participated, prayerfully consider being a  part of it the next time it is offered.)
  • Fasting is a second antidote for the sin of Gluttony.  But, understanding fasting is crucial.  Fasting is denying ourselves food AND disciplining ourselves in remembering:
  1. what food is all about
  2. the Source of all food
  3. how blessed we are when we have food
  4. those who have little or no food
  5. that “we do not live by bread alone”
  • How does Isaiah describe a fast?  Why do you think his version is different?
  • Have you “fasted” in any of these ways lately?
  1. to loose the bonds of injustice
  2. to undo the thongs of the yoke
  3. to let the oppressed go free
  4. to share bread with the hungry
  5. to provide housing to the poor
  6. to clothe the naked
  • How could you do some of these things?  Be specific.
  • When will you do them?

q  Take the Sunday morning paper and cut out a few articles that give tangibles examples of what has been discussed today.  Post these on the wall with a label above saying “Gluttony” so they may be referred to in future weeks.  If there is not time for this in class, ask for volunteers to get it done before next week.


Joys and Concerns- Teacher: Write these on a piece of butcher paper.

Closing Prayer- Students:            Someone should offer a prayer for those who suffer from the sin of Gluttony, but also for those who hunger for food in our world.  Then encourage everyone to go out and be active agents of prayer by doing something concrete about world hunger.


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