Posted by: William | January 29, 2008

The Birthday Paradigm

Why do we celebrate birthdays? It really is a curious thing. I suppose on one hand it’s something like saying, “congratulations, you survived another year.” which in the context of history (and even in our modern day, in some countries) might actually make some sense; what with the high mortality rate. But today, in this country it really makes very little sense. Sometimes it seems more logical to hold a congratulatory celebration for the parents, or if we’re discussing an adult, perhaps a celebration for the spouse. Why does so much emphasis and expectation end up with the birthday boy or girl?

When in reference to my own birthday, I hope to adopt a fresh attitude. I would like to shy away from shallow congratulations to myself, or from unwarranted expectations based on a cultural holiday that revolves around self. A birthday, as with any day, must be lived for Jesus; there are no exceptions to this rule. So I hope and pray for an attitude of thanksgiving. It was God who wove me together in my mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13), God is the sustainer of my soul (Ps. 54:4), I cannot even make one hair on my head white or black (Matthew 5:36) and so I have no room to boast because it is God who has preserved my way (Proverbs 2:8).

I hope that as the church in her members grows in years and stature, we would rejoice on those landmark days; not in man, but in Christ. For in the believer’s birthday it is God who deserves the congratulations and the glory, in which there is joy and satisfaction for us.

Jesus, I pray for a growing attitude of humility in me and in your church. Jesus, I pray you would root out of us all of the excuses and exceptions we make from giving you all of the glory and all of the praise. Jesus, sanctify us by the Holy Spirit and get your glory.



  1. Bill- birthday’s are celebrations of life, not ‘congradulations on surviving another year’. you kinda mentioned that in the 2nd paragraph but i feel like you could have a less antagonistic view of the birthday hype if u saw it as more of a celebration. You could look @ life in general negatively & say you’d be better off dead cause then you’d be rockin out in heaven worshipping & chillin out w/ our amazing God. But lets not do that, lets be joyful. Lets be amazed at the creation around us & appreciative of being able to enjoy that & the loving relationships we’re blessed to be in. Obviosly theres a ridiculous amount of stuff in life to be thankful for. Birthdays are a day we get to relish in that. that’s my blog for the day. enjoy your freakin birthday ya bum!

  2. I agree with Di that a birthday could (and should) be “a day we get to relish in the creation around us & the loving relationships we’re blessed to be in” with a spirit of thanksgiving and awe.

    However, I agree with you that it often does not even resemble this. Most usually it is, as you’ve suggested, an “exception we make from giving [God] all of the glory and all of the praise” by placing “so much emphasis… with the birthday boy or girl”

    It seems to me that if birthdays really were celebrated as Diana is suggesting they are, you (and I) wouldn’t have any qualms whatsoever with them. But, being as they are not celebrated that way (at least I’ve never seen one celebrated that way) they often become an ungrateful day of selfishness.

    I have to admit that of this sin I am probably the most guilty, because I turn my birthday into a birthmonth full of shirking responsibilities… Although I have to point out that this is at least partially your fault.

  3. Happy belated birthday! Like Di, I think each year is a celebration… especially at my age. Like I have 25+ years of experience being yours/Di’s/Jordan’s age.

    Seriously note, I like your idea of shifting the focus.

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