Getting Real About my Favorite Idol

I remember several years ago talking with a friend who was struggling to give up cigarettes. I encouraged her to consider how her body was created to glorify God:

[box]“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)[/box]

While I was challenging her to consider this verse each time she reached for a smoke, the Holy Spirit got my attention. He issued His own challenge to me. He graciously challenged me with this:

“It’s no different than when you reach for that second piece of chocolate cake . . .”


Nailed me.

That’s been almost twenty years, but I remember it being the first time I consciously recognized how my heart toward food indicates where I am in my relationship with God.

Food plays a role in whether I am glorifying God or giving way to gluttony.

I grew up as a skinny-bones girl and never had to worry about what I ate. Actually, I was always trying to gain weight, so food was never a problem for me (or so I thought). I ate as much as I wanted, whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without ever thinking about it.

The problem with that imbalanced approach to food is it allows you to easily slide into gluttony. Food is meant to serve as a source of nutritional fuel for health and energy, not to become an idol. It is a pleasure that we’re to enjoy but not to idolize. And I didn’t realize it until then, but food had become a major idol in my life.

Worshiping my Idol

When I say an “idol” I don’t mean I bowed down to worship it—literally. But worship is a condition of the heart, a heart posture that exalts something to a deified position in my life. We can set up lots of things as “little gods” in our lives, and it can happen so imperceptibly that we may not even recognize that we are “worshiping.”

Martin Luther puts it into perspective:

“To whatever we look for any good thing and for refuge in every need, that is what is meant by ‘god.’ To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in him from the heart . . . To whatever you give your heart and entrust your being, that, I say, is really your god.”

How about we do an “Idol Check?”

  • How much is food the subject of your thought-life?
  • Can the restaurant choice become a battle ground or reason for conflict?
  • Do you find it difficult to make healthy eating choices?
  • How important is food to you?
  • Is food what you run to when you’re sad? Lonely? Having a hard day?
  • Do you continue eating when you are already full?
  • Do you ever eat just for comfort?
  • Do you eat when you’re not really hungry?
  • Do you find it extremely difficult (or impossible) to fast from a few meals in order to seek the Lord on a specific issue?
  • On a scale of 1—10 (with 1 being top priority and 10 least priority) where does food rank?

I believe God wants us to enjoy the good gift of food. He created an abundance of delicious tastes. But any good thing can become an idol. Food is an idol when it takes first place in our hearts. By giving food “first place” I mean when we gratify our flesh rather than obey God.


Listen to what the early church father, John Chrysostom said on this topic:

“The body was not made for the purpose of fornication, nor was it created for gluttony. It was meant to have Christ as its head, so that it might follow him. We should be overcome with shame and horror-struck if we defile ourselves with such great evils.”

Wow. That’s pretty straight forward. Did you catch that? He’s putting gluttony on the same level as fornication—and calling them both “great evils.” And did you notice he said we should be “horror-struck” if we are giving in to gluttony?

I’m afraid I’ve grown so accustomed to my sin of gluttony that I’m definitely not “horror-struck.” Nailed.

Tomorrow, I’ll share with you what looked like the death blow to my struggle with food.

How did you do on the Idol Check?

Image courtesy of


  • Marybeth

    I have struggled with this since college. Like you, I grew up never having to worry about what I ate so I thought I was immune from the possibility of this sin. I have realized it is an addiction. Sometimes I do better than other times. Often this addiction seems more like a joke within the church. People talk about things being “sinfully delicious” etc. When it controls my mind, thoughts, and daily life it is an addiction…just as bad as any other.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Marybeth ~

    Thank you for stopping in to share your heart. Yes, it can be treated like a joke, but it is a sin issue that can deaden our love for Christ, but thankfully, He provides all the grace we need to obey Him. I hope you’ll find this weeks’ posts helpful!

    God bless, friend 🙂

  • Jody

    “Ouch”!!Gluttony and fornication the same level. Not the first time I’ve heard that, but sure makes sense. Anything that defiles my body where the Holy Spirit is living is a great evil. I’m praying I will be horror struck as I continue to walk this path of obedience in how I honor and obey Christ with this body He has given me. Thanks again for these posts!!

  • Becky Arnold

    What a timely post. This very issue is what the Lord is using to show me my sinfulness and my disobedience to Him. I’ve always tried whatever new diet plan is out there, but slowly coming to understand and accept that this is a spiritual issue. Nothing more and nothing less. My patterns after 50 years run deep. God will have to change my initial fleshly responses to run to food for everything. It’s a slow, long, and hard journey, but I am slowly experiencing sweet moments of obedience which spur me to stay the course. I CAN change — but only with the help and power and encouragement of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for posting this. I’m going to print it off and put it with my prayer journal.

  • Kathryn

    Oh my goodness Kimberly. This is such a timely post. It really does come down to, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, whom you have for God, and you are not your own?” I Cor. 6:19. Who owns my body? Who will I yield my body too? As I read these posts I am convicted how much idolatry and worldliness has taken root in my mind and in my heart. I sense a fresh wave of God’s grace and the absolute necessity to get into God’s word and allow His truth to wash over me. I believe some serious bible verse memorization is in order to be able to stand when temptation strikes which is daily….the battle is real. Thank you. Thank you. God bless you.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Joining you in that prayer, Jody! I made this commitment back in April, but it seems like it’s been harder since these posts started running this week, but keeping my eyes fixed on Christ (Heb. 12:1–4).

    Hope I don’t wear everyone out with blog posts on this topic, several more are on the way!

    Thank you for your encouragement 🙂

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Becky ~

    So good to hear from you! Yes, I think this is a common struggle for a lot of us, and it is a long, slow journey toward change for me as well. I’m not doing a special “diet” but just trying to make healthy choices: An apple and nuts for breakfast, lots of grilled chicken and veggies, fruit when I get a sweet craving, small portions at meals, lots of water and a regular routine of walking–nothing super glamorous, like using workout videos or anything, just trying to be healthy and glorify God with my body 🙂

    I’ll be adding several posts on this topic in the coming days (weeks?). Thank you so much for being transparent here . . . and I’d love to know what He’s teaching you as you take those steps of obedience!

    Thank you so much for your encouraging comment, friend, so glad God used this post today 🙂

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Yes, Kathryn, that’s exactly what it all comes down to: “Who owns my body and who will I yield control to?”

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart, love hearing how God used this post!

    Hope I don’t wear everyone out with blog posts on this topic, several more are on the way!

    Thank you for your encouragement 🙂

  • Sheila

    Tip of the iceberg… “I want my children to say no to premarital sex, but I can’t say no to burnt cookies.” Seriously, TIP of the iceberg with COUNTLESS broken vows made to God! NAILED! And OUCH!

  • Sheila

    This isn’t funny, but one time I told my pastor after his sermon, “You said the “F” word!” His jaw dropped, “What?! I did?!” I said, “You told us to FAST.”

  • Becky Arnold

    That’s what I’ve come to, too, Kim. It isn’t about which food I am eating as much as my heart when I eat it. So I’ve thrown away the diets, cancelled memberships to dieting apps, and I am seeking to listen to and honor the Lord with each bite. Praying God will teach me to fuel my body with things He created and gave to me (real food). This series is God’s timely gift to me as I wrestle with this idol. May I learn to love Him more and get great joy from obedience to Him! I’m so thankful for His patience. Thanks again for the post!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Sheila ~

    Yes, “ouch” is what I feel when I get serious about this subject! Thank you for your great illustration in this comment.

    Good to hear from you 🙂