Tuesday, January 21, 2020
I love a buffet line. It shows, doesn’t it? I knew you were thinking that. It is so eye-catching to see a sign on the front of a building that says, “All you can eat.” The trouble is that as my eyes get bigger, my stomach grows. It’s an amazing fact of these wonderfully and fearfully created bodies in which we live. I am learning to control those impulses, but years of serving myself at meals have made me gluttonous.
It was not like that in the days of my youth when I was served my food by my mother. My mom was an amazing servant. I honestly don’t remember what age I was when I was first told to help myself, but I do know that I was into elementary school already. Until then, all I remember is mom putting the plate of food down in front of me, or me passing my plate to her so she could serve the food to us. Part of it was practicality, and not trusting three little boys to pass the china serving dishes around the table without breaking them. A big part of it was her heart to serve. One reason I’m sure was portion control and teaching little boys how to make good decisions.
Then one day, after giving thanks for the food, mom picked up a dish of food, passed it to my brother, and said, “Help yourself.” What was this? She was giving us the right to choose how much we wanted to eat. She gave us some rules of course, like “Only take what you can eat,” and “There’s no dessert unless you eat all you take.” Then she gave us the most important rule – “Think about the others around the table that have to eat when you help yourself.” Then, in a great display of trust in us to truly consider the needs of others, she passed every dish of food around the table before she took any for herself.
Today we live in a world that exalts buffet line lifestyles. The principle of “help yourself” applies to far more than just food. The rule to consider others before helping yourself has been obliterated by the obligation to self. We have very little portion control in most areas of our lives. We take more than we need, and more than we can legitimately use. Years of serving ourselves have made us gluttonous.
Isaiah 58:10 Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as day.
It’s dark around us. It may even be dark in us. There’s not much light shining in the darkness because the light-bearers have chosen to become like the darkness. The darkness keeps getting darker. So many of those who have been created to worship God are still helping themselves to whatever they want, with little regard for the needs of others. Our buffet line mentality that the food never runs out has deeply influenced our lifestyles. We sit at a huge societal table, and as the materialistic food is passed to us, we take huge scoops of it without one thought of the person sitting next to us and what they will be able to eat. How rude! How selfish!
It’s easy to help ourselves like this because it’s so dark. Even if someone does see us do it, they don’t care because it’s exactly what they would do if they were sitting so close to the head of the table. When the food does get to them, they are thrilled with whatever is in the bowl because they can’t see how full the bowl was when it started around the table. If only the first person in line would have turned on a light.
“Please, you go ahead of me.” There’s a flash of light in the room.
“May I share mine with you.” The overhead fluorescent lights are turned on.
“I think I will take only what I really need and can use right away, and leave a bunch for the people behind me.” Individual table lights are switched on.
“I think I will skip eating today so there’s more for others.” Cue the spotlights.
“Maybe I’ll clean out the freezer and give a bunch of food to some homeless people.” Let the light shine the way God intended it to shine.
Buffet-line lifestyles are not what God intended for His people. That promotes darkness. Sacrifice is what God demands. It’s His eternal light switch. It is to define our lifestyle. It is our reasonable act of service and worship in response to His mercy. (Romans 12:1-2)