Cheesesteaks, Maternity Jeans, and Grace


It all started innocently enough. I wanted some black jeans. I have plenty of blue jeans but no black ones. Black jeans make a statement that blue jeans just can’t. I’m not sure what the statement is… I read that online, so it has to be true.

I don’t usually go to stores to buy jeans; I buy online. I know my 3 sizes: the size I want, the size I wish, and the size I actually wear. Turns out the size I actually wear is popular – my online source was sold out. So I asked the great folks at Google and they directed me to some black Levi jeans in my size from a mostly reliable merchant. Excellent. Quick order, quick check-out (free shipping!), done.

A week or so later the new jeans arrive. When I opened the package, I noticed a new sticker on the jeans. The sticker said premium flex fabric. Oh boy. Somebody changed my jeans! Honestly, I was going to return them. But I decided to try them on anyway. Guess what? They are made with some kind of stretchy fabric in the waist that reminds me of maternity jeans.

Have you ever have one of those internal dialogues to solve a dilemma? Honestly, I was torn. I didn’t want to wear “maternity” jeans. But they felt great. So of course I kept them.

Several days later, while wearing my special jeans, Neil the Walking Concordance, Barry the Builder, and I visited our favorite cheesesteak joint. I usually order the large cheesesteak with jalapenos and banana peppers. But I mustered up the courage to try something new: the large cheesesteak with jalapenos and banana peppers and Italian sausage. It was, in a word, spectacular. You should definitely try it.

I expected to feel miserable after eating the giant cheesesteak (with fries!). At the very least I should have felt uncomfortable. But I didn’t… because my special jeans stretched. Premium flex fabric”, indeed!

And that’s how it started. Innocently enough.

Grace. We hear about it all the time in church: grace. Grace. GRACE. Grace is a big topic in American churches. We love it. Amazing grace. Awesome grace. Redeeming grace. Healing grace. God’s grace.

All of that is oh-so-very-very-true. But as I pondered my experience about not feeling uncomfortable after overeating the large cheesesteak with jalapenos and banana peppers and Italian sausage, the reality of my insistence in overindulging began to grow. It occurred to me that I might be relying on premium flex grace.

Don’t misunderstand! I am pro-grace and all for the grace message! God’s grace on me is the only reason I know Jesus and freedom and salvation. God has gratuitously applied it in my life. I got to wondering though… do I sometimes lean on grace instead of truly repenting of a sin?

I admit it. I have a problem with eating the large cheesesteaks. And, I fear, it is probably sinful. How’s that? I don’t eat the large cheesesteak because I need that many calories (who does?!). I eat it because it tastes awesome and makes me feel good. The smaller size cheesesteak would be quite sufficient. But I order the large cheesesteak for the enjoyable experience of eating it.

Of course this is a ridiculous example, and you should know I’m poking fun at myself (and my premium flex fabric jeans). But somewhere in all of this is a message for me. I believe that message is something like:

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV

If I am choosing not to eat to the glory of God, perhaps there are other activities I am also not choosing to do to the glory of God.  Excuse me while I go talk to my Father about this. I believe repentance is overdue.

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