Read part 1 here.
Three Test Questions
How do you know if you’re approaching food in an unhealthy manner? How do you know if it’s an idol? Here are three very practical test questions:
1. Does food control your mind?
Are you constantly thinking about food? Are you spending an unhealthy amount of time planning meals? Do you look forward to eating way too much? Or, on the flipside, do you dread eating? Do you become anxious if you’re forced to eat—at a dinner party, for example? Do you create complex plans to avoid meals? If food rules your mind, it rules you. And it’s an idol.
2. Are you using food to get something else?
Perhaps you’re eating excessively to feel a sense of comfort. Perhaps you’re using food to ease the pain of a recent breakup. Perhaps you’re cutting calories to lose weight so you’ll gain approval in the eyes of others. Perhaps you’re depriving yourself to feel a sense of control over your chaotic life. If you’re using food to give you something only Christ can give, it’s an idol.
3. Do you talk about food way too much?
We will talk most about what we treasure most (Matthew 12 v 34). Is food your go-to conversation piece? Are you constantly recapping your meals to your friends? Do you speak with more passion about your favorite dessert than you do about Jesus? If so, it’s probably an idol.
If you’re using food to give you something only Christ can give, it’s an idol.
If you find yourself idolizing food, I have good news for you. You can open up about it. The church is—or at least should be—the place to admit it. Talk to your pastor about your struggles with food. Talk to a trusted Christian counselor. Talk to a Christian friend. You can be honest with yourself and with others about your food struggles. They probably struggle too.
But most importantly, if you’re idolizing food, there is hope. You can find both forgiveness and freedom in one place. You can find them in the Bread of Life—Jesus Christ (John 6 v 35). And I promise you—he’s infinitely better than food. He’s God. He can feed your soul in a way food never could. And should you choose to feast on him, you’ll never go hungry again.
Steve Hoppe’s new book, Sipping Saltwater: How to Find Lasting Satisfaction in a World of Thirst, explores how Christians can view things like food not as gods, but as gifts from God.
This article originally appeared on thegoodbook.co.uk. Steve Hoppe is the author of Sipping Saltwater: How to Find Lasting Satisfaction in a World of Thirst.