by: FCC Staff
One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.
Everyone has their favorite foods and snacks. But if you overindulge in them, they lose their appeal. In our culture, we have quick and easy access to food from fields and factories from around the world. Even if your local market doesn’t carry your favorite snack, a quick search online, and presto, it’s on the way from anywhere in the world.
The same wasn’t true in the ancient world of the Bible. Food was available in season, and delectably sweet treats like fruit were not always available. Honey, on the other hand (due to its unique properties), has a stable shelf life and can be consumed any time of year. In fact, honey that is over 5500 years old was found in in the tomb of a noblewoman in Georgia, not far from Tbilisi. While no one is rushing to consume this ancient relic, it is assumed that it would still be fit for consumption.
And while archeologist and scholars are still debating the evidence of ancient Israelites being beekeepers, finding a cache of wild honey was a blessed surprise that was a welcome treat any time it was found. While ringing in the new year at Rosh Hashanah Israelites would dip items in honey, celebrating the bounty of both the land God had given them and the opportunity of a fresh start before God in the New Year.
But overindulgence of honey, or any food for that matter was seen as a moral danger in their culture and in the Hebrew Bible. The author of Proverbs pulls no punches when he declared, “When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite.” (Proverbs 23:1-2) Daniel, in his famous fast, avoids the corrupting influence of Babylon, (cultural, political and spiritual) by abstaining from the choice food prepared for the king of Babylon and his entourage.
On the inverse, when we are truly hungry, we appreciate even the simplest of fare. Even something we normally don’t care for whets our appetite if we truly have been without food for an extended period of time. Jesus taught us to request daily provision from God, in the form of everyday bread, a staple commodity in the culture of the time. How delicious that bread must have been when Jesus emerged from 40 days of fasting and trial in the wilderness.
As we follow Christ, these ideas may seem alien to us. We would do well to remember the wisdom of Paul to the Philippian church, “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:19) We can idolize food, really our own enjoyment of it, to the point of it affecting our health; robbing us of true joy, peace, and contentment in God.
So today, let’s appreciate the blessings God has bestowed on us and practice self-control in the face of the temptation of overindulgence. We can get tripped up by this sin as sure as we can any other earthly thing, but too often we overlook this area of spiritual discipline as we seek our own desires. With humble and grateful hearts let’s give thanks, even for the “bitter things” of life, knowing that as we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we can truly be satisfied in God.
Prayer for Today
Father provide for me my daily needs, and let me be content with them. Keep me from the temptation to chase after worldly things, or to obsess over seeking peace and joy in things that will not truly satisfy. I thank you for the ability to enjoy what I have been given, but in so doing let me keep my focus on you Jesus. By your Holy Spirt, allow me the discipline to not idolize things, but to humbly give thanks for all I have been given. Amen.