Celebration and Indulgence
I suppose most of celebrate some special event or another in our lives. Probably the event most of us celebrate is our birthday or that of other people. We are not told in the Bible to celebrate birthdays, although people of Bible times must have marked them to be able to record their ages.
The only birthdays recorded in Scripture are Herod's birthday, and Pharoah's. Herod's birthday party is recorded in Mark:
And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; (Mark 6:21)
This is the renowned occasion when the dancing-girl Salome won the head of John the Baptist on a platter for pleasing the King. In the Old Testament, Pharoah king of Egypt gave a feast on his birthday:
And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants. (Genesis 41:20)
Members of some churches and sects regard it as wrong to celebrate birthdays. Other occasions they will abstain from celebrating are Christmas, New Year, Easter etc. We know that the 25th of December is probably not the birthdate of Christ. Christmas and other festivals are tainted with pagan associations. The only feasts the Jews were commanded to celebrate, and that because of their religious associations, were Passover, when God led Israel out of slavery in Egypt, the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23).
In the record, God says, "...and thou shalt rejoice in thy feast" (Deuteronomy 16:14), so there is nothing wrong in rejoicing, as such! (No need for long-faced Christians!)
However there is an interesting passage in the book of Romans:
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. (Romans 14:5-8)
Here the Christian is given freedom to celebrate special days as he or she chooses - or not to. The basic principle is that he or she is to celebrate it "to the Lord". If you celebrate your birthday, then you give thanks that God gave you life and that you have lived to a certain age, and give thanks for the blessings that have accompanied those years. And so with other festivals if we choose to celebrate them.
The other principle Paul is careful to draw attention to is that if we choose to celebrate certain days or events we are not to judge those who choose not to; if we decide not to observe certain days, birthdays, festivals etc., then we are not to criticise those who do. It is "to the Lord" we regard or do not regard the day, and it is not up to us to judge another person's conscience or actions:
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:13-14, 17)
Then there is the question as to how far we "indulge" ourselves. While on the one hand, "God has given us richly all things to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17), and Jesus celebrated the wedding at Cana, possibly even partaking of the wine supplied (John 2), we are mindful that millions in this world are in want and starvation, and that ought to curb any tendency in ourselves to over-indulge.
It is certainly not fitting that a Christian, for example, should let himself/herself go so far as to become incapable. We should be in control of our God-given faculties at all times. Nor is it proper that we should fill our lungs and waste our bodies by drawing tobacco smoke into our lungs, or inhale/inject ourselves with noxious drugs simply to "get a buzz".
Apart from the threat of long-term damage or short-term lack of self-control, our bodies, created by God, are "temples of the living God" (1 Corinthians 6:15, 19-20), and as such should be regarded as sacred.
Finally, consider this passage from Romans 13:11-14
"...knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light' Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting (a word which was used of the roistering that takes place after games) and drunkenness, not in chambering (the Greek word means immorality) and wantonness (means shamelessness), not in strife (a contention for power and prestige) and envying (an attitude that grudges others their blessings). But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."
"Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth" (Romans 14:22)
In this article we have tried to show what the Bible says about indulgence and celebration. Why not apply for our Bible reading course so that you can do this for yourself with other topics?
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