I love food. If you want to make my mouth water, tell me that spaghetti sauce is in the crock pot for tonight’s supper, or that marinated baby back ribs are currently on the BBQ, or that strawberry shortcake is on the menu for dessert.
Isn’t it wonderful that God made food more than just fuel for our bodies – like gasoline is for a car – but such a delight to the tastebuds as well? It’s amazing how much pleasure we get in our lives just from the food we eat. Our body needs food to live, and God made sure that He put enough pleasure in food to make sure we would want to eat it and keep ourselves alive.
And our soul needs food, too! Our soul needs to enjoy emotional and spiritual pleasures – we naturally seek for happiness, like our body seeks for food. We automatically want to be happy, not sad, and that is a good, God-given desire.
But, as we are all too aware, our bodies often crave junk food that is actually harmful to us, causing us to gain weight, to get heart disease, and to be generally unwell. And because our hearts are sinful, we also desire “junk happiness” that gives a momentary thrill but is actually harmful to us. It is not enough just to eat physical food; you must eat healthy food. And it is not enough just to seek happiness; you must seek godly happiness.
Jesus used food as an illustration in John 4:34. After witnessing to the Samaritan woman and saving her soul, how do you suppose the Lord Jesus felt? He told His disciples, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish His work.” The word “meat” there doesn’t mean specifically steak or ribs (mmm!), but simply food.
Jesus is saying, “I find obedience to my Father satisfying.” We can’t naturally say that; we need God’s grace to retrain our palates to find constant pleasure in doing His will. We need to give up “junk pleasures” and devour the healthy, satisfying, life-giving joy of doing God’s will in His Word!
Both turning away from unhealthy food and starting to eat healthy food is important, mind you; to try to turn away from sinful pleasures without feasting on God’s will is like trying to solve your junk food problem by stopping eating altogether! You need food; you have to eat something!
And you need happiness! All the happiness you need to satisfy your soul is found in obedience to Jesus Christ. So don’t follow your sinful cravings; hold on to John 4:34 and tell your soul, “Soul, feast on obedience; push away the plate of sinful pleasures untasted.” Then you too can say with Jesus, “My food is to obey my Father.”