Tuesday, August 7, 2012
While reading the other night, I was introduced to Evagrius of Ponticus. Evagrius lived in the last half of the fourth century and is best known for his identification of the seven deadly sins. Actually, his list included eight deadly thoughts that ruin lives, but under Gregory the Great who lived two hundred years later, the eight were compressed to the seven deadly sins as we know them today. When I came to gluttony, I said to myself, "No problem here." I confess to eating more than I need, but after some rationalizing decided I had not crossed that line in my battle with the bulge.
However, after reading what Richard Foster had to say, I had to do a little more thinking about this deadly sin. In the book, gluttony was defined as, "the insatiable desire to take things in, to consume, and to attempt to satisfy desire through gorging." I was still doing ok until I kept reading and ran into an elaboration of the basic definition which read: "Although associated primarily with food, gluttony can lead to any number of activities that reflect a loss of confidence in God's provision. Today, for example, we often fear loss of job, and the deadly thought of gluttony can take root as compulsive overwork." Suddenly, the smugness was gone.
Compulsive overwork is a real issue for many of us who live in today's culture. We justify the hours as necessary to get ahead, or as a means of taking care of our family. The one place we seldom go as we think about all those hours of work is to the issue of confidence in God's ability to provide needed provision. While God surely does expect us to be diligent in our work, we tend to go to such an extreme that there might be some reason to think that our overworking may be a way of hedging our bets just in case God is not able, or chooses not to provide for us as we think He should.