When My Stomach is in Control
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22
Our dog is always hungry, eating almost anything. In fact, I’ve never seen him full enough to turn away from food. When we don’t restrict what he eats, he balloons up, becoming quite fat. His stomach is in control, which means there is no control. He is driven by a primal and continual desire for immediate gratification. Even if I could make him understand my words, it just wouldn’t make any difference if I explained to him that overeating is unhealthy. His behavior isn’t controlled by reason, it’s controlled by his impulsive desires. His brain doesn’t make his decisions. His stomach does.
He’s a dog though, so that’s pretty normal. What’s not normal is when I act that way. In my drug addiction, that’s exactly how I acted. With my drugs, I couldn’t see beyond my impulsive desire for immediate gratification. Even when I was made to understand the possible consequences, I couldn’t stop. My behavior wasn’t controlled by reason, but rather was controlled by my appetite for more. For a dog this may be amusing, but for a 42-year-old adult with a family and job, it was disastrous.
In today’s passage, Paul commanded us to flee our youthful passions, pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace. As children, we’re more like my dog, obeying our natural impulses. As we grow and our brain develops, our behavior is supposed to eventually be driven by reason – by right and wrong. As we mature, we’re supposed to learn to control our primal nature. Many of us though, have developed habits or addictions that don’t simply go away with age. We want to be sober eventually, but today we just want to get high. We want to be in shape eventually, but today we just want to eat donuts.
For many of us, our stomach is still making our decisions. Our behavior is still ruled by our appetite. Again, this may be amusing for a dog, but it’s disastrous for an adult human being. Following our impulsive nature will eventually lead us to misery. If we want to know the life of love, joy, and peace for which we were made, we must first accept that our stomach cannot control our decisions. Then, we must abandon our addiction to our appetite. This is not a passive endeavor. This means that we must daily do whatever it takes to separate ourselves from the addiction so we may pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. If we truly want the new life, our stomach cannot be allowed to make our decisions for us.