At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
“Be not among winebibbers; Among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: And drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (KJV).
“Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags” (ESV).Proverbs 23:20–21
The Scriptures do not just teach us to avoid sin because of the sinfulness of the action in itself—although that is part of what we are taught. We are also taught to avoid sin because sin is self-destructive and stupid.
Let us first consider what this proverb teaches us directly, and then we can make a couple of applications. We are told to avoid the company of drunkards, and to stay away from those who are gluttonous eaters of meat. The reason is that these two characters are going to eat and drink their way into the poor house. In addition, they will eat and drink themselves into a sort of moral stupor. That stupor is going to clothe the individual concerned in the rags he aspires to.
Two quick applications. The first is that we should let Scriptures define gluttony, and not leave that job to the fitness magazines. Gluttony is to food what drunkenness is to alcohol. In other words, gluttony is “riotous” eating. We are not talking about that second helping of mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, and not even about the pumpkin pie. Gluttony is a sin of surfeiting.
At the same time, we want to make sure that we don’t explain away the scriptural requirement of temperance when it comes to all of our appetites. Self-control, after all, is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). And temperance here does not mean abstinence, but rather balance. As we have successfully gotten away from the culture of teetotalism, we want to make sure that we do not open the door to a culture of having one drink too many. But drunkenness is a liar and a cheat, and it especially preys on people who are proud of how they have avoided every form of legalism.