What Does The Bible Say About Eating

What Does The Bible Say About Eating?

The Bible has plenty to say about food, from the fundamental start of the world when God provided Adam and Eve fruit from the Garden of Eden, to Jesus’s miracle of turning water into wine in a moment of celebration. Food is mentioned over and over in the Bible, and many of the teachings reach far beyond simply what we should eat.

The Bible gives us many guidelines and warnings in Leviticus and other books about what is prohibited. Pigs, shellfish, and scavenger meats such as Camel and Hyrax were all ‘unclean’, as were animals with split hooves or that did not chew the cud. That being said, such restrictions were only given to the people of Israel, not to others later converted by Jesus. For Christians, Colossians 2:16-17 states that the laws given to the Jewish people do not apply.

In addition, God gave the people of Israel guidelines for eating and for honor, where eating was seen as an opportunity to give thanks to God for the provision of food. Fasting was also prescribed in the Bible, as a way to be closer to God. This looks very different in modern times, where fasting is more often seen as a physical challenge to stay healthy.

God also calls his people to be aware of the needs of others. One parable Jesus tells is that of the Good Samaritan, which talks about how we must take care of those in need. This extends to food as well, where Christians are encouraged to take part in soup kitchens and donate to food banks, or just directly offer their home-cooked meals to those in need.

Eating and food are often used as symbols in the Bible. The feeding of the 5000 speaks of Jesus’s authority and power, offering provision to the people even during hardship. Another example is the allegorically-rich Bible story of the Prodigal Son, where the father provided a big feast for the son when he returned.

At its core, the Bible does not offer a clear-cut answer as to what should and should not be eaten. It is more concerned with how our food choices reflect our relationship to God and how we respond to those in need. When we eat, we should not just be looking after our physical bodies but our spiritual ones too, taking those moments to thank God, think of others and reflect on our relationship with Him.

Food as a Source of Pleasure, Reflection and Gratitude

The Bible also speaks of the importance of enjoying food. Jesus has turned water into wine, suggesting that it can be a source of pleasure. Eating isn’t seen as a necessary evil, but something beautiful and worthwhile. Within moderation, we can not only appreciate the tastes and smells of a meal but also take time to reflect on different aspects of life.

Christians are called to see food in a balanced manner, where gluttony is as bad as denying ourselves and enjoying what God has given us. In the Biblical book of Philippians, we’re instructed to have a contentment and joy instead of anxiety and stress related to food. But enjoying our food doesn’t need to be mindless eating, christians are encouraged to be mindful in how they approach it.

Lastly, we can also look to the Bible to see how we should leverage our meals as an opportunity to thank God. We often take meals for granted, but when taken with gratitude to the creator it can become an act of empathy and service. There is also the attitude of sharing – when we eat with others, as Jesus did at the Last Supper, we can give thanks for the community and mutual pleasure it brings.

Food is a powerful symbol in the Bible and each meal carries potential. Eating the right things, in the right way, and for the right reasons can bring physical nourishment and spiritual blessings.

A Picture of Moderation, Abstinence and Balance

The cornerstone of the Bible’s teaching about food is a biblical picture of moderation, abstinence and balance. In the garden of Eden, people were able to eat anything other than from the tree of knowledge. God’s desire for us is to practice moderation, which comes from the cultivation of willpower. However, the Bible clarifies that there are times when abstaining is necessary and even desirable.

For example, King David fasted in repentance and Jesus fasted in the desert. Abstinence can be a form of self-denial that serves as a reminder of God’s power and control and can also be a way to grow closer to God. The Bible encourages Christians to abstain from certain things within moderation in order to maintain a “level of sanity”. Fasting and abstaining can be spiritual practices that bring a Christian closer to God by fostering humility, contrition and reflection.

The Bible also speaks of the importance of a balanced diet, as found in Leviticus 11. The Israelites were instructed to “be holy in all [their] behavior” and to build a diet around clean animals and plants, as well as the general command to have “moderation in all things”. This notion of balance still applies today. We should strive to include a variety of foods from different sources, such as from the land and the sea, and aim for a healthy variety of food to make up our meals.

In Conclusion

Therefore, the Bible does not simply suggest what to eat, but rather takes a holistic approach to eating habits. We are encouraged to be mindful of our food choices, realizing that their decisions will have implications beyond their physical health. Eating can be a reminder of how we should respond to God and one another, giving thanks, abstaining when necessary, and proving a balanced range of foods.

Diet as a Self-Expression of Spirituality

The Bible also mentions the concept of one’s diet as a spiritual foundation for self-expression. In the book of Daniel, it is written that the “King’s officials asked them to look healthier and better nourished than any of the other young men who ate the royal food.” This teaches us that what we put in our body can also be a form of self-expression through how we look.

Our diet can say something about our values and belief systems, as expressed through our food choices. For example, Jesus celebrated traditional Passover meals and fasted during longer seasons to remind himself of his values. Christians look to this example to express their faith through diet, considering the sources of their food and the manner in which it is prepared.

It is also important to remember that God created each person uniquely and so we must discern which diet works best for us when seeking to express our values through food. Some may follow a vegetarian or vegan diet and have a strong preference for organic and free-range items. Others might choose to purchase only certified humane and humanely farmed products or refrain from consuming alcohol. Irrespective of differences in dietary choices, the Bible encourages us to honor God and share with others.

Diet and Physical Health

Finally, the Bible speaks of the importance of eating as a way to maintain physical health, not just as a social construct or spiritual behavior. Throughout the Bible, God gives instructions to eat healthfully and reminders that physical health matters. Proverbs states “Let food be thy medicine,” and in 1 Timothy 5:23 we read that Christians “stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of their stomach and their frequent illnesses.”

This encourages us to nourish our bodies and minds with foods, through regular physical activity, restful sleep and healthy mental practices, as well as using diet to prevent or heal from illnesses. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God,” reminding us that physical health is a part of honoring God.

It is important that we understand the need for balance in our lives, so that we can nurture physical health, make good nutritional choices, stay connected to God and have time to rest and play. The Bible’s teachings on eating remind us to nurture both our physical and spiritual lives with food.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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