Here is how Malcolm Gladwell discusses what an inverted U curve is:
Inverted-U curves have three parts, and each part follows a different logic. There’s the left side, where doing more or having more makes things better. There’s the flat middle, where doing more doesn’t make much of a difference. And there’s the right side, where doing more or having more makes things worse.
We used this framework to begin to talk about gluttony. Gluttony is really about too much of a good thing that becomes a bad thing. So, for example ,some food is good, a middle amount doesn’t really help or hurt, too much gets unhealthy. But the inverted U works for than just food. It also works for working, stress, and a whole host of things. Working is good for health, but too much work (i.e. being a workaholic) becomes incredibly unhealthy for physically and relationally. A little stress is helpful to stay motivated and in the “flow” – too much becomes an ulcer.
The point of the inverted U is things that are good in small to moderate amounts can have really negative consequences in large amounts. And this is actually the same thing we learn from Solomon, the wisest man on earth. He says this, “If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. (Proverbs 25:16)
A little honey is good, it’s sweet, it’s delicious, and it’s good for you. Too much honey will make you vomit. The logic of Solomon is really clear: gluttony is really about too much of a good thing. It’s about a lack of moderation and balance. Most things in life are only good in moderation, overabundance or overconsumption leads to difficulty. This is true in all sorts of things. Work is good, being a workaholic isn’t. Being flexible and saying yes to things is good, being a doormat isn’t. Watching TV is relaxing, watching 16 hours in a row is a rut. Having some “me time” by yourself is great, doing it so much you disconnect from your family is a bad thing. Buying new shoes can be fun, buying 100 pairs and drowning in debt isn’t.
The point is that gluttony isn’t just about how much we eat, but how we live. And there are things in our lives that are a good thing, but that without discipline, quickly become a bad thing.
So on Sunday to make this personal we asked ourselves one question: Is there a good thing that has become a bad thing in our lives? Is there something good that has become too much and become bad?
- Are we working too much?
- Are we texting and spending too much time on phones?
- Are we spending too much?
- Are we too busy – connecting with people?
- Are we saying yes to too many things?
And as we asked that question we simply collectively said a one word prayer: help. Help God for me to find balance. Help God for me to find strength. Help God for me to find moderation in this good thing that’s gone a little bad.
So that’s what we learned on Sunday but hopefully it isn’t something that we just learn about – but practice. Because the truth is we feel better when we are in the middle – enjoying a little honey but not so much that we throw it up.
Big Idea: Gluttony is about a lack balance and moderation
- Ground Rules #1: Posture of Grace not Guilt
- God convicts of sin, but he doesn’t shame us for our sin.
- Ground Rules #2: Personal Introspection
- Sin leads to unhealthy lives
- Ground Rules #3: Safe and Transformational
- Rather than rooting out our sins, we try to keep them under control. Micahel Mangis
- Gluttony believes that if a little is good, a lot will always be better. Michael Mangis
- Gluttony is too much of a good thing that leads to a bad thing.
- Is there a good thing that has become a bad thing?
- God Help me in this…
Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?Have you ever thought of gluttony not just in terms of food? What are maybe some “good things” that have become unhealthy things? How can you start to get some more balance in your life? How can God help you find moderation? Last but not least – can you give it up for Lent? If so who can help to encourage and cheer you on?
Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids about the sin of gluttony. Why not actually act out the verse? Have the kids taste some honey and how good it is. Ask them what might happen if they were to eat the entire jar of it right now. Share with them how Solomon says they’d throw it all up – and how there is a lot of good things – that too much becomes a bad thing.
Challenge for this Week: Give up on good thing that has become a bad thing