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Food and Drink


Scripture teaches us that we should not make food and drink an absorbing object in life. Christ said: "Do not be careful about your life, what ye should eat and what ye should drink" (Matthew 6:25) and Paul wrote: "The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking" (Romans 14:17). He also wrote: "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats; but God will bring to nothing both it and them" (1 Corinthians 6:13). The point is as he says elsewhere: "Meat does not commend us to God" (1 Corinthians 8:8). We clearly need to eat and drink to support our natural life, but it is only to be a subsidiary matter. As Christ said: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). Paul echoes this when, after saying what the kingdom of God is not, he says it is "Righteousness, and peace, and joy in [the] Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).

From the above quotations it will be clear that there is no suggestion that food and drink are not necessary. Christ fed the four thousand because they were in need of food (Matthew 15:32). We are to give people the things needful for the body (James 2:15/16). We are not to be so pseudo spiritual that we say to persons: "Go in peace, be warmed and filled" without doing the former. As we have just seen Christ did not. However Christ was concerned that the people among which he moved had got their priorities wrong, so he said: "Work not [for] the food which perishes, but [for] the food which abides unto eternal life" (John 6:27). He also rebuked Martha on one occasion because she was distracted with much serving. Only one thing (dish?) was needful (Luke 10:40/42). No doubt Christ enjoyed a good meal and it is not wrong to do so because God "affords us all things richly for [our] enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:17). Christ desired greatly to eat the passover with his disciples (Luke 22:15). The point is, our bodies must be cared for whilst we are in them else we will become ill or die and then we will be serviceable neither to God nor man, but our lives are to be so orientated that the things of God are to be our object. They have eternal consequences, whereas our bodies are to be replaced with glorified ones. The food we eat and the water we drink can only give us temporary satisfaction, whereas Christ gives us what gives eternal satisfaction (John 4:13/14; 6:47/51).

It must be borne in mind that physical food has a spiritual counterpart and has importance for that reason. It is the physical that gives us some idea of the spiritual and this is true of food and drink. The passages just referred to above in John 4 and 6 would confirm this.

However today there is often a lot of concern to eat what is wholesome and dieting is the 'in thing' to avoid putting on weight or becoming ill through eating the wrong foods. Certainly we should not overeat or drink to excess (1 Corinthians 11:21). If we suffer from a particular complaint we may need to eat foods that don't exacerbate our condition, but rather help us to become well. Leaves often have medicinal properties (Ezekiel 47:12). This is generally recognised in the medical world. Even animals make use of them for their therapeutic properties. However it is clear we should not be gluttons (Titus 1:12) or be enslaved to much wine (Titus 2:3). See also Proverbs 23:21. With food we should eat what is sufficient for us (e.g. Proverbs 25:16) and as to drink, a little wine may have therapeutic value (1 Timothy 5:23).

Scripture gives us great liberty as to what we may eat. Some things may be more to one person's taste than to others. We are told, for instance, that venison was to Isaac's taste (Genesis 25:28). Clearly we should not eat what is poisonous (2 Kings 4:38-41), unless in very small quantities for a medicinal purpose. Some living things have uses other than as food. We don't eat wood or hide for instance. The former has a use as a building material and the latter as shoe leather.

However there are indications in Scripture as to what is good for food and what should be drunk. One would be very doubtful about rejecting such nourishment because of some present day fad which would make out that we know better now. Would we defer to man's judgement when the question of our souls salvation was at stake ? Why then defer to man's judgement when what we should eat and drink is the issue. When Scripture clearly shows that things are given specifically for our use as food or drink it would be setting up our judgement above God's to reject them (1 Timothy 4:3).

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