The time of year has come upon us again that closes our calendar year and we will start yet another year of toil and work. While Christmas is known by Seventh-day Adventists to be a festival of pagan origin, and many don't recognise it, it has however crept into our ranks with more and more recognition. How each family handles this time of the year is relatively their own business – each family answerable to God for their actions; but nonetheless, there are still principles that need to be upheld, and there needs to be a voice to offer caution as we indulge in such events.
As Christmas is upheld more and more, it comes with opportunities for compromise in many areas. While on the mind of many as they burden themselves with all the flurry of buying gifts for this one and that one, there is another major chore of buying and preparing all the food, of which we will address in this article. With Christmas now being more of an event for commercial gain rather than a “Christian” recognition of the birth of Christ, there is certainly a plethora of food varieties on the market at this time of the year to lure and tempt the taste-buds, so much so, that it is now well known as a festive season with much feasting and drinking.
Many of our people take umbrage when challenged on their dinner plate. We all seem to have unity on eating; but on what we eat, well that certainly brings challenges and even heated discussions. I do agree that there has to be a balance in our approach to diet and lifestyle. “While we would caution you not to overeat, even of the best quality of food, we would also caution those that are extremists not to raise a false standard and then endeavor to bring everybody to it.”
~Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pages 374, 375.
I wholeheartedly agree with that quote. It is ultimately up to each individual and each family how and what is eaten, but regardless, there is still much counsel offered that we should adhere to as a church body, and we here endeavour to offer that counsel.
One principle that needs to be embedded in the mind as we approach this time of year, especially those preparing food for the family, is that “we Eat to Live, not Live to Eat!” The following texts offer good advice on principle. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
~1 Corinthians 6:19,20;10:31
May each head of the family put these principles in the forefront of the mind when thinking of food. God has laid out some clear counsel for us to follow in our eating. He does not want us sick and enfeebled by our dietary habits, but vibrant and healthy. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
~3 John 2
So here is some direct counsel to help. Keep these thoughts and written counsel in mind. While the purpose of this editorial is for the coming festive season, much of the counsel applies to every day's eating habits. These following two quotes are fairly direct on the subject of overeating.
“There is evil in overeating of even healthful food. . . . If we overeat, the brain power is taxed to take care of a large quantity of food that the system does not demand, the mind is clouded, and the perceptions enfeebled.”
~Healthful Living, page 88
“Whoever eats too much, or of food which is not healthful, is weakening his power to resist the clamors of other appetites and passions. Many parents, to avoid the task of patiently educating their children to habits of self-denial, indulge them in eating and drinking whenever they please. The desire to satisfy the taste and to gratify inclination, does not lessen with the increase of years; and these indulged youth, as they grow up, are governed by impulse, slaves to appetite.”
~Christian Education, page 176,177
As a people, we have clear counsel that we are to drop out all animal products from our diet. The reason being that we will decrease and even eliminate sickness and disease; have clearer minds and be able to discern spiritual topics more astutely, diminishing the animal passions. Some may comment that this topic doesn't need to be discussed, as it is a foregone conclusion that we all know meat eating is out. Well, let's not be so sure. We can all be reminded of our counsel and be refreshed – even be brought back on to the rails!
On the point of meat eating, we are told, “The liability to take disease is increased tenfold by meat eating. The intellectual, the moral, and the physical powers are depreciated by the habitual use of flesh meats. Meat eating deranges the system, beclouds the intellect, and blunts the moral sensibilities. We say to you, dear brother and sister, your safest course is to let meat alone.”
~Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, page 63
If we place a proper confidence in what the Spirit of Prophecy has given us on this point we must conclude that those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord will not be meat eaters. The following message is very clear.
“Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat-eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view, and endeavor to work steadily toward it. I cannot think that in the practice of flesh-eating we are in harmony with the light which God has been pleased to give us.”
~Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, page 119
While the above quotes offer counsel to remove meat from the diet, when it comes to continuing to consume meat against counsel, it is a different story, with some very serious results. To have knowledge, then continue to indulge against the counsel of God eventually leads to eternal consequences. “There are those who ought to be awake to the danger of meat-eating, who are still eating the flesh of animals, thus endangering the physical, mental, and spiritual health. Many who are now only half converted on the question of meat-eating will go from God's people, to walk no more with them.”
~Maranatha, page 62
Dairy and Eggs
The same applies to the consumption of dairy and eggs. While I have not found a direct quote that to consume these items has eternal consequences, we are still counselled to eventually remove them from our diet.
In 1901, Ellen White wrote this counsel. “The time will come when milk cannot be used as freely as it is now used; but the present time is not the time to discard it. And eggs contain properties which are remedial agencies in counteracting poisons. And while warnings have been given against the use of these articles of diet in families where the children were addicted to, yes, steeped in, habits of self-abuse; yet we should not consider it a denial of principle to use eggs of hens which are well cared for and suitably fed.”
~Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 205
As time continued, we see this counsel now being offered. “The diet reform should be progressive. As disease in animals increases, the use of milk and eggs will become more and more unsafe. An effort should be made to supply their place with other things that are healthful and inexpensive. The people everywhere should be taught how to cook without milk and eggs, so far as possible, and yet have their food wholesome and palatable.”
~Counsels for the Church, page 225
Ultimately God wishes us to achieve the original diet. “Again and again I have been shown that God is trying to lead us back, step by step, to His original design--that man should subsist upon the natural products of the earth. Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat-eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view, and endeavor to work steadily toward it.”
~Maranatha, page 62
God's Ideal and Warning For Us
“If Seventh-day Adventists practiced what they profess to believe, if they were sincere health reformers, they would indeed be a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. And they would show a far greater zeal for the salvation of those who are ignorant of the truth. Greater reforms should be seen among the people who claim to be looking for the soon appearing of Christ. Health reform is to do among our people a work which it has not yet done.
“The controlling power of appetite will prove the ruin of thousands, when, if they had conquered on this point, they would have had moral power to gain the victory over every other temptation of Satan. But those who are slaves to appetite will fail in perfecting Christian character. The continual transgression of man for six thousand years has brought sickness, pain, and death as its fruits. And as we near the close of time, Satan's temptation to indulge appetite will be more powerful and more difficult to overcome.”
~Maranatha, page 62
Further definite instruction comes to us, “It means much to be true to God. He has claims upon all who are engaged in His service. He desires that mind and body be preserved in the best condition of health, every power and endowment under the divine control, and as vigorous as careful, strictly temperate habits can make them. We are under obligation to God to make an unreserved consecration of ourselves to Him, body and soul, with all the faculties appreciated as His entrusted gifts, to be employed in His service. All our energies and capabilities are to be constantly strengthened and improved during this probationary period. Only those who appreciate these principles, and have been trained to care for their bodies intelligently and in the fear of God, should be chosen to take responsibilities in this work…No man should be set apart as a teacher of the people while his own teaching or example contradicts the testimony God has given His servants to bear in regard to diet, for this will bring confusion. His disregard of health reform unfits him to stand as the Lord's messenger.”
~Testimonies for the Church, vol.6, page 375-378
Health in the Last Days
Obviously all the above counsel is not necessarily for the up and coming festive season, but for a life-long experience to carry us through to eternal life. To take this subject of health another stage deeper, let us take a broader look how our health message will affect us in these last days.
“Remember that it was through the indulgence of appetite that Eden was lost. Shall Eden be regained with consideration to diet? These principles are of far greater significance than many realise; and thousands will lose eternity upon this point. One of the most significant signs of the end is that people will be ‘eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.’ ~Matthew 24:38. There is little hope of complete victory while appetite and passion are not conquered; whereas conquering on this point insures victory over ‘every other temptation.’
“As our first parents lost Eden through the indulgence of appetite, our only hope of regaining Eden is through the firm denial of appetite and passion. Abstemiousness in diet and control of all the passions will preserve the intellect and give mental and moral vigor, enabling men to bring all their propensities under the control of the higher powers and to discern between right and wrong, the sacred and the common.”
~Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, page 491
“The subject of health reform has been presented in the churches; but the light has not been heartily received. The selfish, health-destroying indulgences of men and women have counteracted the influence of the message that is to prepare a people for the great day of God. If the churches expect strength, they must live the truth which God has given them. If the members of our churches disregard the light on this subject, they will reap the sure result in both spiritual and physical degeneracy.”
~Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, page 370,371
Eat in Due Season
The Bible exhorts us to “eat in due season, for strength and not for drunkenness.” ~Ecclesiastes 10:17. Due season is to eat at proper times – in the season of times. “Your children should not be allowed to eat candies, fruit, nuts, or anything in line of food, between their meals.”
~Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, page 502.
But the “due season” is sadly disregarded with many today, and in this parents are educating their families not to deny appetite, but to indulge it.
“Many mothers who deplore the intemperance that exists everywhere, do not look deep enough to see the cause. Too often it may be traced to the home table. Many a mother, even among those who profess to be Christians, is daily setting before her household, rich and highly-seasoned food, which tempts the appetite and encourages overeating. In some families, flesh-meats constitute the principal article of diet, and in consequence, the blood is filled with cancerous and scrofulous humors. Then when suffering and disease follow, Providence is charged with that which is the result of a wrong course. I repeat: Intemperance begins at the table, and, with the majority, appetite is indulged until indulgence becomes second nature.”
~Christian Education, page 176
In an in-depth study of our faith, we will come across the need to prepare for the latter rain, thus being fitted for translation. But to receive the latter rain, we must come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may. It is certainly fitting that the test of appetite and passion be addressed for this time.
“Send into the churches workers who will set the principles of health reform in their connection with the third angel's message, before every family and individual.” ~Testimonies to Ministers, page 416
We cannot receive the latter rain, give the loud cry, and be translated, and disregard these things. “God demands that the appetites be cleansed, and that self-denial be practiced in regard to those things which are not good. This is a work that will have to be done before His people can stand before Him a perfected people.”
~Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pages 153,154
To Him that Overcomes
As we come closer to the end, we must be more positive, and decisive in presenting the health message. “We need to learn that indulged appetite is the greatest hindrance to mental improvement and soul sanctification. With all our profession of health reform, many of us eat improperly. Indulgence of appetite is the greatest cause of physical and mental debility, and lies largely at the foundation of feebleness and premature death. Let the individual who is seeking to possess purity of spirit bear in mind that in Christ there is power to control the appetite.” ~Counsels for the Church, page 234. Surely our mental powers must be strong now, and the soul wholly sanctified. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
~1 Thessalonians 5:23,24
Finally after all this, it is not the intention to frighten every one into a total fast for the whole of the holiday season, but to be mindful of our health message and principles and make it a part of our every-day life, so when temptation is put in your path, you will resist and the devil will flee from you. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”