Many believe, as believers in Christ, we should not celebrate birthdays. All recorded references to birthdays in the Bible had bad things happen. In Genesis, on Pharaoh’s birthday, Pharaoh had the Chief Baker hanged. (Genesis 40) On King Herod’s birthday, Herod, as a gift to his step-daughter had John the Baptist beheaded and John’s head delivered on a platter to Herodias per her wishes. (Matthew 14) Some say celebrating birthdays is a form of Idol worship and puts self or others before God.
Those who believe we should not celebrate birthdays are quick to point out the gifts brought to Jesus were not brought on His birthday but many years later. (One must remember it took a few days for the birth to be known and the Wisemen couldn’t just hop on a plane and arrive the same day 🙂
Are these reasons not to celebrate? Perhaps. There is, however, no command in Scripture against celebrating the anniversary of one’s birth. In biblical times many celebrations were held and coming of age was one; the Bar (young men) and Bat (young women) Mitzvahs for instance. Some Jew’s believe the first celebrated Bar Mitzvah was when Isaac grew, was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day Isaac was weaned (about the age of 13). Others say the The celebratory Bar Mitzvah feast became a unanimously accepted Jewish custom within the last 400 years.
What is the correct answer? Everyone must decide for themselves. I do know a person can get a headache doing research on Birthdays as there are a multitude of differing opinions. This writer does celebrate birthdays and after all my research will continue in thanking God for the gift of life on each anniversary of my birth.
I think the answer lies more in the mindset of the celebration. When I was a child (up until last year 🙂 birthdays were all about me.) Past celebrations may have bordered on idol worship; certainly not the plan or desire. We all desire to feel special, to be remembered (as a child the gifts weren’t bad either). However, I no longer reason as a child and I’ve come to understand more about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I understand I was born, and created for a purpose. God had a plan for my life and as each day passes I come closer to graduating and receiving my diploma for finishing the race before me. (2 Timothy 4:7)
My birthday celebration this year will not center on the material. It will center on gratitude for the gift of life; my life. I will give thanks to God that before I was popped into the world He had knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:16) Why, He knows the number of hairs on my head. (Luke 12:7) I am not simply a glob of cells for I was fearfully and wonderfully made. My birthday will be a celebration of God’s accomplishments through me as I have surrendered my life to His leading. It will be a celebration of thankfulness for family and friends. It will be a celebration of the beauty which surrounds us every day through His creation; nature.
- Giving and a heart of charity should be a daily event. On your special day increase the amount of your contribution. Or give extraordinarily.
- Spend some extra time praying, reading Scripture, and meditating on God’s word. One of this writer’s favorite things to do on the first of each year is to pray asking God for a “verse” for the coming year. This is a verse which speaks to your heart, almost as though it was written for just you. It’s very personal and may have a direct correlation to the activity and work God is doing in your life. For example, if your experiencing a lot of fear and your desire is to live a life of faith over fear, God might lead you to 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” You may not understand why God selects a particular verse; never-the-less believe this is the verse for you and as the year progresses understanding will come. Note: in writing this article I have decided the anniversary of my life’s beginning is a great time to go before The Lord and ask for my special verse for the year. From now on it will be referred to as my Birthday verse for the year 🙂
- Read a Psalm and dedicate the next 365 days to reading one Psalm a day. (At the end of your birthday year you will have read through the Book of Psalms twice and a wee bit more).
- Over the next month study the Psalm which corresponds to your new year. This is your age plus one — e.g. Psalm 25 if this is your 24th birthday. (You are actually entering your 25th year of life)
- Take some time and contemplate your past year. Consider which areas require improvement, and resolve to do so. If you are a prayer journaler (like me) take time on your Birthday to review what, when, where and how God has worked in your life this past year. Remember to give thanks for all things. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
- Make a commitment to study, (over the next 365 days) each verse which connects with your birthday verse for the year. Using the example above of Faith over Fear you might look up and do a word-study on each verse and passage dealing with the word fear or the word faith, or both.
- Try a new vegetable or fruit this year; one you have never tasted and give thanks for the gift of provision of food. Using all 5 sense as you enjoy the food item selected, give thanks for the gifts of taste, sight, smell, touch and hearing.
- Commit yourself to doing a something nice and out of the ordinary for someone each month. At least 3 out of those 12 months pick someone you do not know; you might pick an organization such as a food bank over Thanksgiving, participate in an Angel tree gift, help at an animal shelter, visit a nursing home paying special attention to those with no family in the area.
Happy Birthday everyone,
Until next time,
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14