As I continued studying the Thanksgiving Bible Lesson this morning, I was stuck by a Biblical reference to food and feasts. It is found in I Corinthians, a letter Paul wrote to the church he founded in Corinth. Paul is instructing them about the limits within which a Christian lifestyle should be lived, to encourage them to consider not merely whether a thing is permissable, but whether it is helpful to others, as well as ourselves. He was giving practical guidelines for the dangers of joining in what might be a sacrificial, idolatrous feast. Most of us won't be invited to one of those, but we might find ourselves in an atmosphere somewhat different than we might have provided if the 'feast' was in our home.
He writes: "If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no questions for conscience sake." He goes on to caution that if they were told that anything being served had been originally part of an offering to an idol, they should abstain from that. He clarifies that this attitude of making a conscious choice about what you eat or drink, or how you choose to behave yourself, should be done to honor God, and in a way that does not give offense.
Mary Baker Eddy addresses this beautifully in our Church Manual in what is called The Rule for Motives and Acts. We are not impelled in our motives or acts by animosity or mere personal attraction. We do not react with disgust or indignation to what others choose to believe nor should we consent to eating or drinking something just because someone we admire or care about makes such a choice. This Rule ends with a reminder to watch and pray daily to be delivered from judging or condemning, or being influenced erroniously. Sound advice from both Paul and Mrs. Eddy as we move into the holiday season.
Neither of them prohibited joining in festive occasions. Both offered sound advice on how to handle yourself in those situations in a manner that does not cause offense or lead to wrong decisions. That is a good guideline for not overeating. Mrs. Eddy says, "If mortals think that food disturbs the harmonious functions of mind and body, either the food or this thought must be dispensed with, for the penalty is couple with the belief." Hmmm. The most important thing is to examine your thoughts and be sure that whatever decisions you make are in line with your highest sense of right and that everywhere you go, whoever you are with, your behavior honor's God and good.
Jesus was often invited to be a guest at feasts. He went and ate what was served him. He answered questions, using the occasion to tell them more about God. He healed. See Luke 10: 8,9.
I am looking forward to this holiday season and all the blessings it will bring. And some turkey.