While it is good to strive for goodness and beauty in our food, if we are unthankful, we will defeat our own efforts. Unthankfulness is a refusal to praise God, a refusal to enjoy Him. To do so is defiance in the face of God’s blessings. Instead we should always be thankful to God (1 Thess. 5:18), as every good gift is from Him (James 1:17). Selfishness is the opposite of thankfulness, and if I had to pick one thing that is wrong with the current view of food, selfishness would be a top choice.
There are two kinds of selfishness that I see as a problem. The first is a now-centered, pleasure seeking self-centeredness that has gone mainstream in our culture. Our food is largely meant to fulfill our immediate cravings, without regard to future consequences. We often use our agriculture for today, not looking to its future for others. We eat more food with less hospitality and fellowship around the table, making for shorter meals with a faster intake of food. For the materialist at least, food becomes merely an economic commodity, instead of a work of love and beauty for others. This selfishness tends to want the most personal gain, especially sensual gain, with the least work. Perhaps these words fit:
“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.”
(Proverbs 23:20-21 ESV)
But there is also a kind of self-centeredness that is not over-indulgent, but can be over-restrictive. Some might complain too much about what the corporations are giving us and forget the blessings that we do have. Some might over-emphasize nutrition and get caught up in banning any food that might have anything detrimental to health. Unintentionally, they could become ungrateful for everything that is not completely healthy. Instead, even though we strive for health and nutrition, we should be grateful and content with what we have. And some might think that food is only a means to survive, and the enjoyment of food because it gives physical pleasure is unbecoming. Instead, we should praise God for giving us tasty food that is pleasing and beautiful to our God-given senses. This restrictive way of being ungrateful is strongly addressed in the Bible:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:1–5)
The food Christians eat is made holy, as it is set apart for righteousness by the Word of God and prayer. This is because if we are consistent as Christians, we will eat for God’s glory with thanksgiving to Him. When that is done, we will neither be selfishly sensual or selfishly health-obsessed. We will be God-centered, and will joyfully thank God for making His food healthy and tasty. We will stand in awe of His wisdom in His creation, and we will not pervert His blessings for our glory. Thankfulness to God is a great starting point to solving our food problems.