‘Eating and Drinking to God’s Glory’
EVEN in the daily routine of life our Creator, Jehovah God, can and should be taken into consideration. The inspired admonition to Christians is: “Whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.” (1 Cor. 10:31) But how can one glorify God in such ordinary matters of life as eating and drinking?
For one thing, a Christian’s eating and drinking should not injure the conscience of others and provide an occasion for stumbling. In some areas, for example, people look down upon those who eat certain meats or who partake of any alcoholic beverage. The Christian should not completely ignore the conscientious scruples of the community in which he lives. He should also be very considerate of the conscientious scruples of fellow believers. He would not want to make it more difficult for others to accept true worship or to maintain faithfulness to God. That is why the apostle Paul recommended: “It is well not to eat flesh or to drink wine or do anything over which your brother stumbles.”—Rom. 14:21.
By restraining himself from doing what he has a right to do in this matter, a Christian glorifies God. How? He displays love and deep concern for fellowmen, seeking, not his own advantage, but theirs. (1 Cor. 10:24) He demonstrates that, in harmony with God’s purpose, his whole life centers around helping others to gain divine approval. A desire to glorify Jehovah God also prevents a Christian from becoming immoderate in his eating and drinking. Were he to overindulge, he would dull his senses and lose mental alertness, as well as a desire to accomplish things. Through excessive drinking he could easily make a fool of himself. As the Bible proverb puts it: “Wine is a ridiculer, intoxicating liquor is boisterous, and everyone going astray by it is not wise.” (Prov. 20:1) Instead of glorifying God, one who comes under the controlling influence of alcohol is prone to unrestrained noisiness and senseless words and actions that result in his being viewed with disdain. He reproaches God, the very One whom he claims to represent as His servant.
Moderation in food and drink, however, is but one aspect of God’s law governing eating and drinking. Perhaps one is not given to heavy eating or drinking. Yet he may not be glorifying God. This is clear from the words of the apostle Paul to Timothy: “The inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons, by the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, marked in their conscience as with a branding iron; . . . commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by those who have faith and accurately know the truth. The reason for this is that every creation of God is fine, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified through God’s word and prayer over it.”—1 Tim. 4:1-5.
Note that religious regulations prohibiting certain foods are actually an evidence of a falling away from true Christianity. This means that persons claiming to be Christian but commanding certain dietary restrictions as a required means for gaining divine favor are in reality dishonoring God. How can this be? Did not God’s law to Israel rule out certain foods as unacceptable?
True, the Israelites were given dietary laws that prohibited them from eating certain mammals, birds, insects and fish. (Leviticus, chap. 11) But those restrictions ceased to exist when the Law covenant was replaced by the new covenant in 33 C.E. Later, when the apostle Peter, while in a trance, objected to eating animals that were unclean according to the Mosaic law, he was told: “You stop calling defiled the things God has cleansed.” (Acts 10:15) Yes, God’s “word,” his authorization or permission, put an end to the distinction between “clean” and “unclean” animals. Observing the dietary restrictions of the Mosaic law, therefore, was not a requirement for gaining salvation. That is why the inspired apostle Paul wrote: “Let no man judge you in eating and drinking or in respect of a festival or of an observance of the new moon or of a sabbath; for those things are a shadow of the things to come, but the reality belongs to the Christ.”—Col. 2:16, 17.
Hence, for religious organizations of Christendom to impose the dietary restrictions of the Mosaic law, the whole or in part, would mean their denying that the reality belongs to the Christ. They would be acting contrary to God’s “word” that has sanctified or set apart all things usable for food as acceptable. Religious dietary restrictions other than those contained in the Mosaic law would likewise be in opposition to divine revelation that “every creation of God is fine” and therefore suitable for food.
The institution of dietary restrictions as a religious duty is not a minor matter. It constitutes rejection of Christian faith and accurate knowledge. It implies that there is something defective in God’s “word,” that it does not reveal the full scope of what people need to do to gain divine approval and that man-made precepts are therefore needed. The importance of God’s “word” is minimized and human regulations are elevated. By thus misunderstanding the only standard for judging truth, the Scriptural standard, the door is opened for other apostate teachings. Accordingly, to command obedience to man-made dietary restrictions as a religious duty dishonors God. However, if an informed Christian abstains for the time being in order not to stumble or offend the conscience of a person who feels bound by such dietary rules, he is doing a considerate thing and is looking for the liberating and salvation of a rule-bound person.—1 Cor. 9:19.
Jehovah God is also dishonored when food is eaten and no expression of thanks is made. This is so because food is sanctified, not only by God’s “word,” but also by prayer over it. The one praying acknowledges that God is the Provider and accepts food as a gift from him. He recognizes the truth expressed at Psalm 145:15, 16: “To you the eyes of all look hopefully, and you are giving them their food in its season. You are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.”
This appreciative attitude has a wholesome effect on true Christians. It serves as a strong incentive not to misuse God’s provision, either by overeating or by being wasteful, taking more food than one could reasonably eat. Then, too, a person is less likely to be needlessly ‘picky’ about food. His grateful attitude will cause even those of lesser means to welcome him into their home. Simple as the meal may be, they can be comfortable and need not fear that things really will not be up to his standards.
Surely there are good reasons to eat and drink to God’s glory. The person who does this refrains from heavy eating and drinking and preserves his dignity. By appealing to the consciences of others, he avoids stumbling them. Above all, by acting in harmony with God’s “word” and partaking of food with thanks, he can find real satisfaction in knowing that this course leads to lasting blessings.