I grew up only sharing meals with my family on special occasions. I liked this because I was an introvert who desired that alone time to process through the many thoughts I had accumulated throughout the day. I didn’t want to eat with others all that often.
But things changed once I decided to live more like Jesus. I couldn’t ignore that Jesus spent many of His meals with people. His last meal was spent with His friends. He even ate with a crowd of five thousand.
Because Jesus was intentional with His life, He shared this precious time with others.
I wanted to do the same thing. So in college, I reasoned to always eat lunch with people. It didn’t work out so well every day, but I began feeling the benefits soon after.
Sharing a meal together is worked into our American tradition, as evidenced by this study which states families are still gathering around the dinner table most nights. But are we doing this purely for tradition sake? Do we know all that this practice has to offer?
You see, I believe Jesus was intentional with this practice for a reason. Sharing a meal together doesn’t just provide company to an oftentimes solitary experience. It does much more. There are spiritual benefits to this practice that need recognition.
In sharing a meal with people each day, I’ve experienced the following benefits:
1. Relief from addictions.
When we think of addictions, we typically jump to the worst ones, like alcoholism or pornography. But addictions are every day. They might not be characterized as clinical addictions, but they are attachments driving our self to isolation nonetheless.
For instance, the addictions we have today are: checking our phones every five minutes, going on social media, video games, workaholic, etc.
By sanctioning a sacred time where nothing can lay hold of our spirits, we can have at least a temporary relief from these addictions. We can remind ourselves the beauty of life outside the walls of our attachments. And maybe, that’s the first step to leaving them behind.
2. Dependence on community.
I spent much of my life trying to prove myself with many self-actualization pursuits of finding the right career, accumulating wealth, fashion, etc. Yet in the midst of this, I was also trying to find who I was.
Many of us do this. In the ratio of our days, we spend more time chasing efforts of personal achievement than matters of the common good. We work more to distinguish ourselves from community, not place ourselves in it.
But Jesus said we do not find ourselves by being by ourselves. We find ourselves by losing ourselves.
This means dying to self and living for the greater good. This means immersing ourselves in community, even when we think we don’t need it.
When I began sharing meals with people, I saw threads weaving me into their lives. I saw our similarities and how we can help each other. And I learned more about myself in that time than any other.
Don’t distinguish yourself from others. Find yourself in others.
3. Maintain a spirit of abundance.
Many people today believe they need more. As a society, we’ve cultivated a mindset of scarcity—one that always asks how can we get more, as if we’re running empty in our life.
I always believed I needed more in life. I felt I couldn’t function without the latest fashions and current trends. I always sought more money as the solution to my discomfort.
But this mindset slowly began unraveling as I shared more meals with people. I began to see that I didn’t need more, and that I wasn’t running on empty. I was not poor in the least bit. In reality, my life was rich with relationships. I wouldn’t have noticed this if I weren’t intentional in sharing a meal with people.
I wonder if Jesus gathered His friends around the table to be reminded of His blessings before He left. I wonder if He needed a tangible sight to see what He’s gained in His lifetime. I wonder if this is the gift we are also given in sharing a meal with people—the opportunity to look around and sink in the truth that people are enough.
Let’s celebrate what we have without wishing we had more.
It’s not easy to share a meal with others when you’re moving at your own pace throughout the day. If you’re wondering how you can implement this practice in your daily life, refer to the practical suggestions below:
- Always set it at the same time each day. Routine helps sanctify a time where nothing can interrupt gathering together.
- Have snacks available throughout the day. If your household doesn’t have snacks available, you’re inviting your friends and family to eat on their own. Buying snacks is an investment for mealtimes together.
- Take your phone, or any mobile device, and physically set it aside. Don’t simply set it on silence. Show that this device does not belong in your time together.
- Pray before each meal. Give thanks to God for His provision. Doing so will remind you that sharing meals is a blessing to be celebrated, not a chore to sit through. Remind yourself of God’s abundance by praying to Him before a person takes a bite.
We don’t do this simply for tradition and routine. There are a whole slew of spiritual benefits hidden in this practice. Let’s prioritize it, for the sake of our friends, our families, and ourselves.
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