Fat Cows, or
Learning to Hunger and Thirst for God
In Amos 4:1, God calls a group of people “fat cows.” This is a metaphor of course, and God is not referring to their physical appearance, but to their spiritual condition. These were a group of His chosen people, yet they had become complacent and self-absorbed.
One of the great things about God’s Word is that it is as relevant today as it was when it was originally written. Consequently, when it comes to our spiritual condition, many of us fit the description of “fat cows” today.
What are the characteristics of fat cows?
- They don’t lack for spiritual food (they are fat after all)
- They lounge around getting ever fatter, content to eat and sleep
- They congregate with their kind, hanging around with other fat cows
- They’re confined in a pen (even though they’re confined, they’re unaware of their plight)
- They feel “safe” in their pen
- They never experience spiritual adventures with God (that would be too scary)
- They think they’re satiated, so they never hunger and thirst for God
- They moo (complain) when agitated
- They’re unaware, docile, complacent, slow, and cumbersome
It’s easy to fall into the category of “fat cows.” It really doesn’t take any effort on our part—which is why this is such a problem.
In contrast with fat cows, King David wrote the following:
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. – Psalm 42:1
David saw himself, not as a fat cow, but as a deer that hungers and thirsts for God. People like David crave an ever-deepening relationship with Christ. They reject the complacent, self-absorbed lifestyle of a fat cow.
What are the characteristics of deer?
- They’re dependent on God for everything
- They’re lean, agile, fast, alert, sleek, and powerful
- They experience adventures in the wild with God every day
- They recognize their great need for God
- They too congregate with their kind, hanging out with others who hunger and thirst for God
- They depend on each other to find food, water, and protection from danger
- They’re constantly wary of predators
But if you know your Bible, you know that even David slipped into a fat-cow mindset for a time. As a result, he committed adultery, murder, deceit, and brought heartache to his family, his kingdom, and his God.
You see, whether you’re a fat cow or a graceful deer is purely up to you—but you must choose. And once you choose, you must live the life you’ve chosen to live.
How do you become a graceful doe or majestic buck?
First, recognize your great need. You might think, “I prayed the sinner’s prayer. I’m saved.” But do you realize that you need Christ in your life as desperately today as when you put your faith in Him?
Paul urges us, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
Those of us who have humbled ourselves and saw our sinfulness and absolute need for a Savior should be even more attuned to our great need of Him every day. “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.” (Psalm 73:25)
Identify with David who thirsted for God and cried out to Him, “But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God.” (Psalm 70:5)
Second, embrace God’s design for you. He didn’t design you to be a fat cow. He designed you to be like that graceful deer that pants after Him. Fat cows are content to stay in their pens, eat their fill, and sleep their days away.
When asked to give their testimony, many Christians simply respond with something like, “I asked Jesus to come into my life when I was at camp in junior high.” That’s it—that’s the extent of their testimony.
But what is God doing in your life today? How is He changing you? What adventures have you experienced with Him? The wild deer is fully dependent on its Creator for everything.
“How many are Your works, Lord! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. All creatures look to You to give them their food… when You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good things.” (Psalm 104:24, 27, 28)
Third, awaken to your environment. What I mean is this: look around you. Are you confined in a pen of complacency where all you do is fill your stomach and take your ease? If so, you’re in fat cow territory. Leave the pen. Get out, stretch your legs. Learn to run with the deer!
The prophet Habakkuk wrote, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.”
Fourth, congregate with your kind. Once you’ve broken out of the pen, look for other deer who hunger and thirst for God. Run with them. Seek their company. Help each other find sustenance in the Lord. Be alert, protect each other and encourage each other.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Fifth, revel in God’s goodness. As a deer, you are now free. You’re totally dependent on God for everything and you daily look to Him and trust Him for everything. Your eyes are now open to all He has and does for you.
You now know what it means to hunger and thirst for Him daily and to have that hunger and thirst fully quenched as you’re refreshed in Him. As a result, you cannot keep quiet about all the good things that you enjoy in Christ and you’re compelled to tell others.
“Come and see what God has done, His awesome deeds for mankind! Let me tell you what He has done for me.” (Psalm 66:5, 16)
There you have it! So, what will it be for you? Will you choose to live the life of a fat cow, or a graceful deer hungering and thirsting for God?
©2018 Rob Fischer