Did You Know that the Bible Commands Us to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry?

God takes pleasure in your pleasure. He’s given it to you.

It’s vital to see that eating, drinking, dressing, and loving in these verses do not form an exhaustive list of God’s gifts. Rather, it’s a representative list of what it looks like to love life and to live it to the full. These things are a way of saying: when God made the world, he made it good, and no amount of being a Christian, being spiritual, ever changes the fact that God put you in a physical world with hands and food and drink and culture and relationships and beauty.

 

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. (Ecclesiastes 9:7)

Right at the start of Ecclesiastes 9:7 is a little word, “Go.” We’re not just told “Eat your food with joy,” but “Go”! Seize the day.

God takes pleasure in your pleasure. He’s given it to you.

In other words, set about it as if you mean it and know what you’re about. Eat and drink with gladness and joy. The second half of verse 7 shows us that these things are a gift: “for God has already approved what you do.” God takes pleasure in your pleasure. He’s given it to you.

Here we’re touching the heart of Ecclesiastes. Gift, not gain, is your new motto. Life is not about the meaning that you can create for your own life, or the meaning that you can find in the universe by all your work and ambitions. You do not find meaning in life simply by finding a partner or having kids or being rich. You find meaning when you realize that God has given you life in his world and any one of those things as a gift to enjoy.

Our Joyful Gift-Giving God

My mother still loves giving me Christmas presents. Every year it’s the same. She asks me what I would like, and I say, “Nothing thanks, Mum. I’m forty-plus; I don’t need anything to open,” and she gives me something to unwrap anyway. Even now, she just loves seeing her boys receive a gift from her. Any parent can understand this. Anyone who loves someone else can understand this, for what we love as we give is the pleasure on the face of the person who receives.

The Preacher says that God is just like that. As he gives us gifts, it is a sign of his pleasure in us. When we enjoy his gifts, we are experiencing his favor. The only right way to respond to God’s good gifts, and to his pleasure in giving us the gifts of food and wine and family, is to go and enjoy them.

“Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head” (Ecclesiastes 9:8). Sidney Greidanus points out from the Bible that when people were distraught, they wore sackcloth and ashes to show their grief; but white clothes to reflect the heat of the sun, and oil to protect and nourish the skin, were worn to show joy and happiness.

Don’t think that because you’re going to die, it doesn’t matter how you dress or how you look. Rather, look after yourself. The world was meant to be a place of color and life and beauty.

Taking Pleasure in the Manifold Gifts of God

Enjoy life with your spouse, whom you love. Cherish and protect the person God has given you. If you’re married, don’t downplay this. We are not told: live with your wife or put up with your wife but, rather, enjoy life with your wife.

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