Dirty Jobs: Appetites

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If you’ve been to a county fair most likely you’ve gotten to watch and laugh at the pie eating contest, or you have seen on ESPN the skinny Asian guy who beats all the chubby others guys in a hot dog eating contest, with a stomach that is described as elastic. Reuter’s Life! shared a story that you probably haven’t heard of, it was from Taiwan in 2008, at Dayeh University, where the students were having a contest to crown one team the “Big Stomach King!” That is something to write home about, right? In Taiwanese fashion, the contest was with rice balls and cheese and had over 30 teams involved.

One 23 year old man had just pulled his team into first place, downing two full buns of rice balls and cheese, even helping out downing some of the food on his teammates plate, when he started throwing up persistently, passed out, and died. “I can’t say why he died,” said Huang Te-hsiang, the university’s dean of student affairs. “He had been in the contest before. He was a strong guy.” The graduate student, surname Chen, was on course to win the five-year-old annual competition, a publicist said.” What was the prize that drove him to keep shoving food down his throat, long after his stomach was filled up, what prompted the unending urge for more?…The publicist added, “He would have won T$2,000 ($60).” He had a devouring appetite was ultimately was misapplied.

Today, that is really at the heart of our focus today, as we discuss the hungers and appetites within us that when misapplied can be life-threatening.  In our sermon series Dirty Jobs we have been looking at the life of Joseph, as his story unfolds in the book of Genesis, and the dirty jobs that need to be confronted to move forward. Dealing with the issues that are easy to ignore but imperative to address. Someone came up to me after last weeks sermon on jealousy and said in there decades in church they never heard that topic covered. Isn’t that how it works? We are great at avoiding dirty jobs. Out of sight, out of mind.  Yet, Mike Rowe in a Dirty Jobs episode took on the job of Garbage Collector for Chinatown. As you can imagine, after a while, even if you don’t see the trash, it starts to stink. The same thing happens in our lives, when we ignore the dirty jobs our lives begin to stink, our relationships begin to spoil, our appetites go unchecked.

As we look at the next chapter in Joseph’s story from Genesis 39, we find that after being sold into slavery by his brothers for 20 shekels, the slave traders heading to Egypt made a pretty penny by selling him into the home of an Egyptian named Potiphar. He is described as the captain of the royal guard, and he became a possession in a household where things were going to begin stinking when left unchecked and where the Dirty Job of Outlasting Lust would come to the forefront. He was now in a situation where everyone seemed to be controlled by their…

Appetite (Gen. 39: 2-4,6) The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned…So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.This is an amazing portion of Scripture because an Egyptian, who probably formally worshiped a host of gods, found the God of a slave to be strong and sufficient. He was willing to yield his possessions to the God called Yahweh. Yet, despite the positive turn of events, the appetites –lust–ran deep. The Expanded Bible adds some insight into the Potiphar household, although an official of Pharaoh, behind his back people called him the chief butcher. His duties included being commander of the executioners who rarely ran out of work. He was a man who was more than willing to take care of a problem directly at the neck, yet for the time being his only concern was what to put into his stomach! His appetite wasn’t the only one in the house, his wife had an appetite of a different making (6b) Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”  Here is the deal: We can sometimes can confuse lust and love. Lust is loving what someone can do for you, not loving who someone is.

The church can sometimes be accused of a Victorian era prudish, yet God knows all about our desires. Check out Genesis 2:7-the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. “Living being” literally in Hebrew nephesh chaya means a bundle of appetites. Sin isn’t having desires, it is fulfilling them outside of God’s desire. Man began with God breathing life directly into us, it is when we pull away that we are living on a dwindling supply of oxygen. Where are you feeding? Are you feeding off a dwindling supply or on an unending supply? Feeding on godly vision, feeding on God’s word, feeling on the Holy Spirit?

When we are alone and weak, we are inclined to be devoured by a misapplied appetite. When we are HUNGRY, ANGRY, LONELY OR TIRED. I was discussing this with my wife and she said, “Yeah, I’ve seen you during those times, and you get Hangry when you are hungry–Watch out!”  Paul said even of himself (7:15), “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

What we call lust—is really a legitimate need being met in an illegitimate way. A seemingly short-cut that becomes quicksand. Misapplied appetites lead to unintended consequences. Thomas Costain’s history, The Three Edwards, described the life of Raynald Ill, a fourteenth-century Belgium duke. Grossly overweight, his Latin nickname, Crassus, means “fat.” After a violent quarrel, Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room. This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter. When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.” Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year…a prisoner of his own appetite. (Dave Wilkenson)

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