Spiritual Bulimia


Stuart L. Brogden

Several years ago, the news was full of stories of otherwise normal teenage girls who either didn’€™t eat enough to nourish their bodies (anorexia) or would consume massive quantities only to barf it up soon thereafter (bulimia). (Fine topics for a breakfast meeting, eh?) Although there’€™s not much news coverage of these two debilitating conditions, they are, in fact, running rampant throughout the body of Christ€“ in the spiritual realm. How many Christian men, you and I included, are characterized by these?

€œDo not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. – Prov. 23:4

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles. – Prov. 24:17

Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked. – Prov. 24:19

In his book, Point Man, Steve Farrar describes these conditions and the prescription for the cure: Anorexia nervosa is extreme body emaciation caused by aversion to food. Spiritual anorexia is an aversion to reading the Scriptures. Farrar interviewed more than one thousand church going, Bible believing Christian men and found that 45% failed to read the Bible at least weekly. He then observes, the enemy does not mind if you revere the Bible, just so long as you don’t feed from it. Why is it important that we read the Word of God?

Farrar gives us three reasons he starts his day in the Word:

  1. First, it reminds me that there is a God who is ruling over the affairs of my life. Society lives as though there is no God, and I need to be reminded before I face the day that there is a God who is in control of my life and circumstances.
  2. Second, I need to be reminded of what is true. A Christian man in this society is swimming upstream against the current. Without the constant nutrition of the Word, he will soon tire and be dragged off by the sheer forces of the current.
  3. Third, the morning briefing reinforces my convictions. Each day I have to make choices based on my convictions. I need God’€™s input to make consistently right choices.

God gives us another dose:

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” (Luke 4:1-4).

And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” (Deuteronomy 32:45-47).

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:12-14).

As dangerous as anorexia is, something else afflicting Christian men is even worse. It is spiritual bulimia. A young woman with bulimia will binge and take in a tremendous amount of food, only to quickly vomit, thus denying her body of the nutrients it needs. Spiritual bulimia is an aversion to applying the Scripture to my life. Without digestion, I cannot benefit from the nutrients in the food. Without meditation leading to application, there is no spiritual digestion, and I continue to lose strength. Lest we think knowledge of Scripture is the antidote to spiritual bulimia, he reminds us, in the Christian life the opposite of ignorance is not knowledge, but obedience. God does not want to take a new Christian and move him from ignorance to knowledge. He wants to move him from ignorance to obedience.

Are you feeling overwhelmed and discouraged in your walk with Christ? Are you defeated and spiritually ineffective? Have you lost your excitement and enthusiasm in following hard after Christ? Have you so given in to habitual sin that it now threatens to sink you? Have you been duped by the enemy into ignoring the Scripture? Has your schedule become so crowded that you haven’€™t picked up your Bible in weeks? My friend, you cannot live without the Bible. It is your life.

Back to the Word:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalms 1:1-2).

And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27-28).

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22)

If you are spiritually anorexic, read your Bible. If you are spiritually bulimic, meditate on and obey your Bible. Develop the habit of reading the Word, reach out to another man who will help you walk in obedience. You and I are too weak and too wicked to trust ourselves to walk alone. That’s what the enemy wants you to do.

Rowland Croucher said, “Above all, desire to please Christ; dread his disapproval above everything else.” This one phrase, I believe, captures the essence of Christian life. How it concentrates the focus. Does it describe you? Far too often, I must confess, I find myself the object of my desires. Let each man who claims Christ dig into the Word and spend time in prayer – by these two activities, we will be drawn to know Him better and our desires and dreads will be rightly forged.

Let Christ be your motivation and your guide, everything else will fail you and lead you astray.