Pastoral 2013

Joyful Celebrations of Solemn Days

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 27 January 2013

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Is it unbiblical or sinful to celebrate a joyful occasion with a sumptuous meal? There are some who believe that it is a grave mistake to enjoy a grand meal even on a happy occasion, though God has provided the means to enjoy it. However, the Bible teaches the contrary.

It is true that the Bible instructs us not to live beyond our means. We are exhorted in 1 Timothy 6:6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” We should not be spendthrifts who always live a lavish lifestyle. We must be frugal, not to amass wealth for ourselves, and yet have enough for the proper care of the poor, the Gospel work and ourselves. Nonetheless, the Bible does not prohibit occasional celebratory extravagance within the limits of His laws and provisions. The pleasures of life which God has permitted and made available by His grace are not to be shunned or despised.

In fact, God has instructed His people to rejoice with sumptuous feasting on special days for His glory. It is God “who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Consider the following passages in which we read about the biblical mandate for a happy celebration:

Deuteronomy 12:7, 18 – “7And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee. 18But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto” (cf. Deuteronomy 14:23,26).

Deuteronomy 16:11, 14 – “11And thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to place his name there. 14 And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates.”

Deuteronomy 26:11 – “11And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.”

Nehemiah 8:10 – “10Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Ecclesiastes 2:24 – “24There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.”

Ecclesiastes 3:13 – “13And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.”

Ecclesiastes 5:18 – “18Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.”

Ecclesiastes 9:7 – “7Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.”

From the above portions of the Scriptures, it is abundantly clear that the Word of God does not prohibit us from rejoicing over a sumptuous meal on special days of joy and thanksgiving. Moreover, the Bible does have records of marriage feasts and other happy occasions of celebrations whereby God’s people enjoy eating, drinking and singing. Even, Jesus joined in a marriage celebration in Cana and performed His first miracle to provide the best wine they could enjoy for that wedding. Let us also not forget that in heaven, God’s people shall be gathered for a “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).

Here, we have some clear guidelines as to how we should rejoice while we gather to eat and celebrate, lest we may forget God and do that which displeases Him. Some of the biblical guidelines for joyful celebrations, which we glean from the above passages, are:

  1. The motive for our celebrations and eating is to express our thankfulness to God. “And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee” (Deuteronomy 12:7). There should be no other motive than pure gratitude.
  2. Our celebrations, though full of joy, must always be conducted with a spirit of reverence and holiness, for we gather as in the presence of the Lord. We are repeatedly admonished that “ye shall eat before the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 12: 7,18).
  3. There must be special care to include the poor and needy in the celebration. Their expenses must be taken care of by those whom God has blessed with substance. In Deuteronomy 16:11 and 14, the Lord commanded Israel to include in their feasts “the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you.”
  4. Finally, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

 

 

 

Testimony

Dear Pastor Koshy,

Good day to you and your family in the blessed name of Jesus. I am thankful to our Lord for allowing me to be back here in Singapore to be with the wonderful and kind people of Gethsemane BPC. I especially enjoyed the fellowship with the Gethsemane Seniors’ Bible study group. I like to hear their chatter in Chinese even if I don’t understand the language.

I also enjoyed the warm and happy times and fellowship with the brothers and sisters of the Gethsemane Filipino Fellowship.

Pastor, I am blessed to know you because you are the only one who answered my troublesome questions that haunted me for years. Now my soul is at rest, being assured of His salvation.

I greatly thank God, and to you also - thank you. My faith is stronger now than before. I am so delighted every time Carolyn shakes my hand. Although sometimes her hand is so cold, I can feel the warmth of her heart. I thank her for being kind and generous to me.

My stay here is the most contented part of my life. Many blessings have I received, and even though I am poor, I live like the rich because I am surrounded by God’s love through the wonderful people of GBPC. I am going to miss you all, especially the seniors.

Thank you, Pastor, for also helping my son and his wife to grow and be strengthened in their faith.

How I would like to shout to the whole world about God and His goodness to me. His promise in Isaiah 46:4 is true to me. Glory be to God.

May the Lord continue to shower GBPC with more blessings.

In Christ,
Rebecca Delina