Yesterday in Sunday School, our lesson was on the Sabbath, from the Ten Commandments. There were a wide variety of views on the Sabbath. I jokingly reminded the congregation that they were all too happy to make me work on the Sabbath, which got a good amount of chuckles. The Sabbath is tough to wrap your head around, because what constitutes work?

One man felt it was wrong and hypocritical to go out to lunch after church because it forces people to work on Sunday. (For the record, yes I know Saturday is the official Sabbath, but work for me for a moment.) My thought was well perhaps that’s true, but which is better to patronize a business that is already open or to force my wife or myself to work by preparing the meal? I think we need to be careful not to fall into legalism. I’m pretty glad doctors and police and firefighters work on Sunday and I have been very blessed to minister the Gospel on Sunday. I think God is going for something bigger here and we need to be careful not to turn a day of rest into another pressure of life.

As earlier stated, as a pastor, I work almost every Sunday and while I love it, the fact that it is work cannot be denied. Scripture does delineate an exception for the priesthood from Sabbath laws. I tend to take a principle view, rather than a legalistic view on the Sabbath. Since I must work on Sunday, I try to take another day of the week as a day of rest, usually Monday. The question then becomes “What is rest?” I create art as part of my living. That being said, I also love to make art, I find it very relaxing and it is one of my favorite things to do on a day off. I also love to read, but there is a lot of reading that is part of my work in ministry. Should I make art and read (and write things like this) on my Sabbath? I don’t know. Is it still work if I love it and really want to do it? I told you this is harder than it looks.

Jesus answered people about the Sabbath by saying the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Sabbath is rest and rest is a gift. It is not a gift to be taken lightly. The Old Testament penalty for breaking the Sabbath was death. Sounds like God does take it seriously. I think here’s what we need to see. God was so strict about the Sabbath because He does not want us living as if this whole life depends on us. He wants us to keep Him first and to depend on Him. He also knows something we often choose to ignore, our physical bodies are finite and need rest. Rest is good for our minds, bodies and souls. Here’s what I have decided. We need to rest, and we need to find time to devote to the Lord, a time where He is our first and foremost focus. The Sabbath is a day to read for pleasure and create for pleasure, but more than that, it is a day to turn our focus to Jesus and let Him guide our efforts or lack thereof.

That may not be the letter of the law, but it is definitely the Spirit of it.

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