For a few hours on Christmas Day it’s forget the world, take it easy, and “eat, drink and be merry.” But is there any biblical support for doing so, and does the phrase even exist in the Bible?
Yes, it does, at the end of Luke 12:19, in a story Jesus tells of a rich man who’s jolly pleased with himself because he has “plenty of good things laid up for many years.” He’s done well in business, padded his bank account very nicely to the point he can spend money without having to think about it. He can truly tell himself, “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”
And can he be blamed for thinking that, when “the great words of the Teacher” in Ecclesiastes includes the statement in chapter 8:15, “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better under the sun than to eat, drink and be glad.” There’s that phrase again, and again it’s in Scripture, and this time it’s being encouraged too.
The great Greek philosopher, Epicurus (Epi-cue-rus), also encouraged it. He believed from his own observation that happiness for us humans is tied in with savouring life and enjoying pleasurable activities, no matter how small. And rather than fretting about the future and long term goals, just enjoy life as it comes.
In modern terms it’s called hedonism, which gets its share of bad press nowadays, because it pictures rich globalists jetting round the world eating and drinking and being merry, having “laid up for themselves” oodles of money at others’ expense, and they get away with their selfishness and greed – because they can. Which is exactly the kind of chap Jesus was talking about back in Luke 12, to press the point home that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions,” verse 15.
So there’s a bad side to “Let’s eat, drink, and be merry,” when it’s “So long as I’m enjoying myself and getting the things I want, who cares about the cost to others?” But there’s a good side too, when taking into account Jesus’ statement in John 10:10, that he came so we “may have life and live it to the full.” Isn’t that a potent nod to pleasure and happiness being a good thing?
Yes, but as Shakespeare wrote in Othello, Act 2, Scene 3: “Good wine is a good familiar creature, if it be well used.” So, yes, enjoy the beautiful and “familiar” pleasures that life has to offer, and with total scriptural backing too, because in Ecclesiastes 2:24, “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too is from the hand of God.”
But “if it’s to be well used” there’s verse 25 too, “for without God who can eat or find enjoyment?” That’s what makes “eating, drinking and being merry” truly biblical, knowing God is in on our enjoyment too.