Rest and relaxation are not optional. Rest was never meant to be a luxury, but a necessity for growth, maturity, and health. Rest is so important that God included it in the Ten Commandments. We do not rest because our work is done; we rest because God commanded it and created us to have a need for it. The Sabbath was made for man because God knows that our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being demands periodic breaks. The old proverb is true, “If you don’t come apart and rest awhile, you will come apart.”
Here are five reasons to keep the Sabbath.
The Sabbath reminds us that life has a rhythm.
In the relentless busyness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between action and rest. We need to regain that rhythm.
When you listen to an orchestra, all the parts work together in harmony. The music has balance and rhythm. Without rhythm, the music is awkward and out of sync. It just doesn’t flow right.
To have rhythm in your life, four ingredients are necessary: rest, worship, play, and work. Too many of us change and reverse these ingredients and end up with work, work, work, and perhaps a little play.
Gordon Dahl wrote, “Most middle-class Americans tend to worship their work, to work at their play, and to play at their worship. As a result, their meanings and values are distorted. Their relationships disintegrate faster than they can keep them in repair, and their lifestyles resemble a cast of characters in search of a plot.” Or to keep with our metaphor, their lifestyles resemble a song in dire need of rhythm.
The Sabbath renews our reverence of God.
The Sabbath is a holy day because it is God’s.
This usually raises some questions like these: “Does that mean it’s all right to watch television on Sunday? Is it all right to go to a ballgame on Sunday? Can we eat out, read the newspaper, play softball, or go grocery shopping on Sunday?”
Those are good questions. The only thing wrong with them is that you have asked the wrong person. It’s not my day. It’s the Lord’s day. Ask him, “Lord, how can I honor you on this day? How can I take this day and give you glory, reverence, and praise so at the end of the day I can say it was your day?”
Take time to be holy and to worship on the Lord’s day. Worship on Sunday should be our highest priority—more important than our work on Monday. Do you know what we say to our children when we don’t make church attendance a regular habit? We’re saying it’s nice, but it’s not a necessity. When we consistently head off to work on Monday without being consistent in worship on Sunday we have sent a clear message to our children what is most important. Furthermore, we have ventured off into dangerous waters both for our personal health and for the well-being of our family.
The word holy literally means set apart. Let me encourage you to set apart one day a week as a Sabbath to reverence God and rest your bodies. When you do, you not only gain a personal benefit but a spiritual benefit as well.
The Sabbath renews our reliance on God.
The Sabbath is a day to be nourished and refreshed as we let our work, our chores and our important projects lie fallow, trusting that there is a God at work taking care of the world when we are at rest.
The Sabbath is a testimony of trust.
Perhaps one reason we hurry so much has little to do with poor time management or economic necessity as much as it does with faith in God. Perhaps we simply do not believe that God will be true to his word. Perhaps we are not confident that God will take care of our needs.
There’s the story of the two birds perched high above a busy city watching all the people busily scurrying from one activity to another. The Robin said to the Sparrow, “Why do those humans scurry to and fro?” “Perhaps,” said the Sparrow, “they do not realize they have a heavenly Father like ours that cares for them so.”
Corrie ten Boom, the Dutch lady known for her family’s hiding of Jews during World War II in which she was imprisoned, used to say, “Don’t wrestle, just nestle.” That’s what trusting is all about.
The Sabbath is the time we snuggle up close to our Heavenly Father knowing that we can rest confident, secure, and victorious.
The Sabbath restores our souls.
Sabbath is more than the absence of work; it is a day that we partake of the wisdom, peace and delight that grow only in the soil of time—time consecrated specifically for play, refreshment and renewal. Many of us, in our desperate drive to be successful and care for our many responsibilities, feel terribly guilty when we take time to rest. But the Sabbath has proven its wisdom over the ages. The Sabbath gives us the permission we need to stop, to restore our souls.
In the deep jungles of Africa an American traveler was making a long trek. He had hired tribesmen to carry his load of equipment and luggage. For several days they marched rapidly rarely stopping to rest. The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey. One morning the traveler found his African tribesmen refusing to move. For some strange reason they just sat and rested. On inquiry as to the reason for this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone to fast and they were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.
Here’s the point: The speed in which we live and the corresponding lack of rest in which so many of us experience does for us what the march did for the jungle tribesmen. The difference between them and us is that they knew what was needed to restore life’s balance; too often we do not.
The Sabbath is a day of remembrance.
The Sabbath is more than simply resting our bodies. It’s greater than merely restoring our souls. It’s higher than recharging our minds. The Sabbath is foremost a day of remembering God’s role in our lives.
Remembering, worshipping, and resting are acts of contemplation. Yet in the midst of our busyness, we are starved for contemplation. We need that time to remember what God has done for us in our lives.
Rest in not just a psychological convenience; it is a spiritual and biological necessity. “Remember the Sabbath” is more than simply a lifestyle suggestion. It is a commandment, an ethical precept as serious as prohibitions against killing, stealing, and lying. To forget it is dangerous—personally, morally, and socially.
Let us, then, for one day a week, cease our striving for more, and instead taste the blessings we have already been given, and give thanks. God does not want us to be exhausted; God wants us to be peaceful and happy. So let us keep the Sabbath.
Did you know that if we practiced love our relationships would be stronger, our jobs would be more meaningful, and our ailments would be fewer? Earlier this year I wrote an encouraging book on love called Chapter 13: The Excellence of Love. The book gets its title from perhaps the greatest statement ever made on love in 1 Corinthians 13. This book provides a guide to love, and, if practiced, it will make us well and whole. Click here to claim your copy.