Is it possible to eat out to the glory of God?
If you read my What is the reason for the hope that is in you? over the weekend, you will know that John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life has been challenging us to consider more intentionally how we use our money to prove that Christ is our treasure, not money or the things money can buy. If you didn’t read my “What is the reason for the hope that is in you?” post, then you might want to do so before reading any further in this one, or you won’t really understand where I am coming from.
I mentioned that we seldom go out to eat anymore, but that maybe we should as an opportunity to engage in our culture (community) and build relationships. One of the reasons we don’t eat out is because we don’t really have the extra financial resources for doing so, unless we spend money we have budgeted for something else. On the surface, going out to eat may look like something we are doing for ourselves, but if we must sacrifice in other areas, such as clothing or entertainment, so that we have the money to eat out, and the purpose of eating out is to meet people and reach out to them in the love of Christ, then we can see a greater motivation for doing so than my not having to cook.
There are two possibilities for us that we can see at the moment. The first would be for us to go out to eat after church on Sunday. Unfortunately, Christians have a bad reputation for being cheap and terrible tippers, so going out to eat after church on Sunday, might provide an opportunity for us to change that perception. One of the drawbacks for us if we become regular patrons of a particular restaurant after church on Sundays is that we live about an hour away from the community where we go to church, and restaurants in our home community are usually closed on Sundays. The other problem Louis sees with this scenario is that he is concerned that our eating out on Sunday supports the restaurant’s need to be open on Sunday rather than closing for a day of rest.
The other possibility is that we return to dining out weekly in our local community during a weeknight. The drawback is that if the opportunity should ever present itself for us to invite someone to attend worship with us, they are not likely to be willing to drive an hour away to do so. (In case you are wondering why we don’t worship in our local community, let me just say that is not in the present equation.)
Any thoughts so far?
Of course, we could go out to eat twice a week. *grin*
Patronizing a restaurant on a regular basis is obviously not enough to demonstrate that Christ is our treasure. We must be intentional about how we demonstrate our faith and how we use our money in the restaurant, but I don’t believe there is a formula. It must be authentic and motivated by our love for Christ and for those who don’t know Him or His love, and it must be bathed in prayer.
We must pray for God to increase our love for Him and those He wants us to love in His name, and for the wisdom and insight to know what to say and do when opportunities arise that Christ alone be glorified.
We must ask God to open our eyes and ears to the needs of others, as we trust Him for our own (including the resources to pay for our meals), that we might be generous in every way.
We must be vessels empty of ourselves and full of Him, so that we will quickly abandon our own preconceived ideas and plans, and be led by the Holy Spirit to bless and give at the moment He speaks to us.
We should be careful to avoid praying a blessing over our meal loud enough to be heard by others who are seated at tables near us, which would draw attention to us. When we met with friends at a restaurant after church one Sunday, our friends told us about a practice they had of telling their waitress/waiter that they spoke a blessing over their meal and then asking the waitress if there was anything they would like for their family to pray about when they said the blessing. That day, our waitress responded immediately and asked us to pray for her grandfather in the recent death of her grandmother.
As we eat our meal in public, we should be considerate of those around us by not using our cell phones inside the restaurant. We should keep our table neat and clean to avoid extra work for our waitress and those who clear the table after we leave.
With self-control, we should avoid gluttony. If we are tempted to order more than we know we could or should eat, we could consider giving the money we would pay to purchase the abundance of food and bless the waitress by adding that to her tip instead.
We can patiently wait for a table and our food.
We can be kind and loving toward waiters or waitresses, or other restaurant patrons, who are not kind and loving toward us, extending grace to those whose unhappiness and lack of joy might be affecting their attitude toward us.
In other words, we can, and should, walk by the Spirit, and manifest the fruit (Galatians 5:22-23):
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
What are your thoughts? Do you think it is possible to eat out to the glory of God?
We no longer have small children in our home. How can those who do eat out with small children (including grandchildren) demonstrate that they are Christians and walk by the Spirit?
(By the way, the dragonfly photo has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this post. I take dozens, if not hundreds, of photographs almost daily, and don’t have enough ways to use most of them creatively. I really liked this particular dragonfly. When I took my late afternoon walk yesterday, he followed me everywhere, landing on the fence just ahead of me and flying off as I approached. He never let me position myself where I could photograph him from the front, but I thought he was such a pretty dragonfly.)