george_hancockstefanIt is interesting that on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are all sorts of columnists giving advice about how to have an enjoyable family gathering. This is in spite of the fact that you may have a proverbial uncle who no one will invite unless you do, a sister in law whose cooking ability leaves a lot to be desired (and yet she wants everyone to taste what she has prepared), or perhaps the brother who lets everyone know that he came only to watch the football game. If we judge our celebrations by reading the columnists, one starts to believe that there is very little to enjoy in our society.

It is also true that in the Bible we know too many stories about people who made an idol of their enjoyments.  We know the stories in which the land of Israel enjoyed her Sabbaths while the Israelites were in captivity, and the rich man set out to enjoy his riches, but his life came to an end that night.

Many people imagine Paul as a very austere person who most likely did not enjoy too many things.  It surprises us when he writes to Timothy that the rich people should not put their hope in their riches, but “to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Tim. 6:17)

As the Israelites are coming into the land of Canaan, Joshua tells the tribes that they have to cross the Jordan and help their brothers conquer the land, but then says: “Then you shall return to the land of your possession and enjoy it, the land which Moses the Lord’s servant gave you on the other side of the Jordan toward the sunrise. “ Joshua 1:15 KJV

The Book of Ecclesiastes has many passages in which the author writes that the lot of mankind is to enjoy the fruit of their labor, for enjoyment is also a blessing from the Lord.  (Ecl. 2:24, 3:13, 5:18)  When the prophet Isaiah looks into the blessings of the Lord he writes, “For as the days of a tree, so will be the day of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands.” (Isaiah 65:22b)

The other verb that is akin to enjoy is the verb to delight. One of the best verses is written by the Psalmist, who delights himself in the laws of the Lord and on them he meditates day and night. (Psalm 119)  But we have this verse expressed in so many different situations: David delighted in the friendship that he had with Jonathan, the king’s son (1 Sam. 19:2); a husband should delight in the wife of his youth (Proverbs 5:18); and righteous lips are the delight of kings (Prov. 16:13).

In these large family gatherings, enjoy the food that has been prepared. Thank the people who have prepared it. Then give thanks to God who has blessed us so richly in this country.

Enjoy the presence of the uncle who is avoided by the rest. Find out something new about him and see how you can be an influence in his life for which he will thank the Lord that night. Enjoy your sister in law’s attempts to make the holiday brighter – thank her for her hard work. Enjoy your brother’s analysis of the football game – sit down and watch the game with him.

Enjoy being a part of the biological family in which God has placed you..  Be glad that you are a part of this particular group with all their gifts and oddities.  You are unique – there are only a few people like you, and they are likely in the room with you.

Remember life is short – be nice to everyone so that they will not have to lie about you in your eulogy. I pray you had a blessed Thanksgiving with your family.


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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...