Above all, thank God for your many spiritual blessings. We are thankful for our material blessings, or should be. But remember to keep them in perspective. A person may possess much and still perish miserably in the end. This is why Jesus asked the piercing question, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul” (Matt. 16:26)? As wonderful as our material blessings are, they are still far less important that our spiritual treasures.

There is one more thing this passage adds to our enjoyment of good things that sets the enjoyment of God's people off from that of hedonists. It is the most obvious thing of all: the knowledge that all we have is from God and the heartfelt giving of thanks to him for it. That is why Nehemiah reminded the people that “this day is sacred to our Lord” and that “the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

I suppose that about this time in our study one person at least (perhaps more) is getting restless and is thinking that this does not sound very Christian. He might be thinking, “How can you be a Christian and have such a good time too?" Or maybe she is putting it more philosophically: “What is the difference between the enjoyment of food you have just been describing and mere hedonism? After all, pagans can enjoy the “good life also."

But here is the important thing. Even though Nehemiah unquestionably welcomed this repentance and desired the revival—later on in the story he encourages it—he did not take advantage of the moment to promote the revival of the nation at this time. Why not? Because it was a time to enjoy and give thanks.

I do not know whether Nehemiah, the governor of Judah during the second half of the fifth century B.C., knew the writings of Solomon. He may have since Solomon lived several centuries before his time. If he did, he may have had Solomon's wise words in mind when he instructed the people of his day about Thanksgiving. Solomon had said,

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance… (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4).