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Give Thanks as you Over Eat This Christmas

December 4, 2015

During this time of year a handful of Christian bloggers feel the need to remind believers about the sin of gluttony. One of my favorite article titles is “Jesus died for your Food Coma”. Because America has long had an obsession with food these articles can be very helpful. Gluttony is still a sin, and we all need timely reminders of the evil of letting food become a god in one’s life. Some of the articles go a little too far and suggest we would be better off thanking God and remembering the gift of Jesus by serving at a soup kitchen or giving to the homeless than by overloading our plates and eating until we collapse in a stupor in front of the television. To which I reply, “That’s great. Pass me the gravy before you head out.”

I greet their calls for moderation with a call for them to be moderate in their moderation. To their festal stoicism, I reply with a little epicurean doxology. While the New Testament does not prescribe any feasts for the Christian, the example of the Old Testament shows that God can be praised in a feast as much as He can be praised in sacrificial service. Consider two examples. In Deuteronomy 14 God commands the Israelites to bring the tenth of their produce to the temple precincts and feast on it before the Lord. For those who lived too far away to safely transport their produce to Jerusalem, God instructed them to sell their produce and in the place He appointed buy “whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household.” Deuteronomy 14:23 gives the reason for this feasting. “That thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.” Every year Israel gathered together to enjoy the rich bounty of God’s blessings to remind them to fear God.

In Nehemiah 8 Ezra read the law of God to the people. The congregation responded to the reading of the law with weeping and mourning. Nehemiah, Ezra and the Levites stopped the people from their sorrow. “This day is holy unto the Lord, mourn not, nor weep.” Then Nehemiah told them, “Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet (sounds to me like a plate of bacon and a bottle of Dr. Pepper), and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto the Lord: neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Not only is feasting an appropriate way to remember to fear the Lord, it is an appropriate way to rejoice in the Lord.

In New Testament terms, all things are acceptable. To those false teachers who commanded believers to abstain from eating meat, Paul replied, “Every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused.” God created the animals of earth to be received with thanksgiving of them that believe. Believers are uniquely able to praise God in the feast. Only Christians can properly recognize God as Creator of all things, the provider of all needs, the giver of abundant blessings and the source of all joy. God has given us richly all things to enjoy. Give thanks and chow down. When you you wake up from your food coma, thank Him again for His many rich blessings.

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