By bro Tan Yan Ling
God made man such that we need food for physical survival and He provides us with the food. In His infinite wisdom, perhaps all these were done to help us understand that we need God for spiritual survival and He gives us Christ, the bread of life (Joh 6:35) to eat. Such is the simple harmonious truth of our faithful and dependent relationship with God.
Initially when God created man, he could enjoy the food that God provided in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:16-17), but because Adam and Eve sinned and was driven from the Garden, we have to toil and labour for our food since then (Gen 3:17-19). Although we labour, we must realise ultimately that it is still God who assures our harvest through His workings (Job 36:26-31, Psa 104:14). So, we should be grateful to our loving God who gives us food in due season (Psa 145:15). We should not complain like the Israelites in the wilderness and incur the wrath of God (Num 21:5-6). Let us always be content and eat our given portions with joy, knowing that God has accepted our works (Ecc 9:7).
I find it interesting how God made a variety of food and He made man such that we can taste the difference. In Job 20, evil is likened to food that tastes sweet in the mouth and turns sour in the stomach. Christians are to be like salt that enhances the flavours of food. We understand what God means because we can relate to it physically.
Food is such an essential part of our everyday lives. Like how God provides food for us, we must provide food for those under our care (1 Ti 5:8). However, unlike our almighty God who can make food even from nothing (e.g. rain bread in Exo 16:4), we must manage ourselves prudently in order to sustain steady food supplies for our dependents. The Bible gives us good lessons like Joseph who kept the grains in preparation for famine (Gen 41:39-49), the ant who stores food in summer (Pro 6:6-9) and the virtuous woman who brings food for her family (Pro 31:14-15). As we gather food, we must also handle our food respectfully and properly to keep our bodies and minds healthy (e.g. Lev 11:29-41).
Food is valuable. So much so that it can be offered to God, traded and gifted as good work. It also provides opportunity for communion and bonding, such as in Job 42:11 when his family and acquaintances ate together with him to console him. So, it is a good thing! Even God cherishes food (Deu 20:19-20). However, we should not be hazed by the importance of food and forget our duties or forget to be prudent, as food has also been misused to cause suffering. For example, Satan tricked Eve and Adam to sin with food, Jacob tricked Esau to sell his birthright (Gen 25:32) and Amnon tricked Tamar to his bedroom with food (2 Sam 13:10). Satan also tried to tempt our Lord with food but our righteous Lord showed by example that food is secondary to living by the Word of God (Luk 4:4). It is written that we should seek God first and God will take care of us (Mat 6:31-34).
We are warned in Proverbs 23:1-8, to eat with restraint in front of rulers or misers so we do not fall into compromising situations. Even though God teaches us it is not what we eat that defiles us but the words that come out of our mouth (Mat 15:11), He also tells us that if something we eat stumbles our brethren from following Christ, we shall not eat it (1 Cor 8:8-13). So, we must carefully consider what we eat and how we eat them. Establishing good food practices and attitudes will guard us against unnecessary temptations (e.g. stealing food due to lack, subjecting ourselves to bad situations) and trials (e.g. food poisoning, chronic illnesses).
Like natural wonders, the food we have are testimonies for God (Acts 14:17). Reflecting on the priority, availability, attitude, management, taste and consequences of food in our lives can help us see God (Rom 1:20). So, let us labour and give thanks for our portions, cherish our foods, eat with prudence and share meals when we can.