Most of Us Don’t Do Sabbath Rest Well

I know it won’t come as a surprise to any of you that I was talking to my sister recently. I am not sure how the topic came up, but we got to talking about Sabbath rest an how sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between Sabbath Rest and Laziness. The conversation has been mulling around in my head a bit this week and I think I have come to two conclusions:

  1. My Christian circle doesn’t talk about Sabbath Rest enough.
  2. Most of us aren’t enjoying Sabbath Rest like we should.

Whether or not the first one is true, I am still going to write a blog post about Sabbath Rest… so arguing the validity of my argument feels like a waste of all of our time. But that second one… that is a pretty big claim. But before I show why I think that I am right, I want us to be on the same page about Sabbath. The verses where God commands the people of Israel to observe some kind of day without work are too numerous to list here, but in the first set of the 10 Commandments, found in the book of Exodus given by God at Mt. Sinai after Israel’s slavery in Egypt, God says this,

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Exodus 20:8-11

I would love to include other circumstances that God gives this command to His people, but for now, let’s agree that the Sabbath was supposed to be a day without work that shows a trust in the God who provides and reflects the fact that even He rested when His work was finished.

With that under our belts, here are three reasons why I think most of us aren’t enjoying Sabbath Rest like we should:

Some of Us Are Too Busy

I don’t think that this is going to be a surprise to anyone. We all know someone who has such a full schedule that there isn’t any time for them to sit down to drink their coffee. They know where all of the drive through coffee shops are just to make sure they can consume their caffeine on the road and not slow down while they are getting juiced up for the rest of the day. Sometimes this busy state is self-inflicted (these are the workaholics among us). But a good portion of stay at home parents suffer from this same problem. From the moment they are awoken at 6 AM by another potty accident until the time that they put the last load of laundry in the dryer after the kids are in bed, these warriors on the front evangelistic lines (let’s face it, they witness to non-believing kiddos all day) have their throttle fully on. No matter where the source of the busyness, it can get in the way of us enjoying Sabbath Rest.

We Don’t Rest, Rather We Just Engage in Laziness

On the opposite end of the spectrum from those who are constantly working, there are those of us who are so good at “zoning out” with our eyes glued to a screen that it is a little scary. This is not a new problem for anyone. The method of being idle may now include screens, but even prior to the invention of the novel Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica:

6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

2 Thessalonians 3:6-10

“The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” Wow. Those who were being idle were such a drain on the family of God that Paul instructed that they not be allowed to eat!

When laziness is our modus operandi, we are unable to enjoy Sabbath Rest because we fill our down time with a substance called, “Nothing,” instead of enjoying God’s rest.

Lastly, We Don’t Understand Sabbath Rest

The last reason why I don’t think most of us are able to enjoy Sabbath Rest like we should is that we don’t fully understand it. Throughout the Old Testament a call to rest is brought up many times, and the author of Hebrews attributes this repetition to this idea:

9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:9-10

The rests from work Israel were called to throughout the Old Testament pointed toward an ultimate rest from our ultimate labor: to be in relationship with God. Instead we must recognize that the work that is required so that we can be in relationship with God has been accomplished for us when Jesus declare that His work was finished (John 19:30), and He rested in a grave for a Sabbath before returning in His glorified body on the third day.

Conclusion

I truly hope that this post was a much needed mirror to help you look at the way that you organize your own life. I know it is hard to know how best to follow God, but I think that it is important for us to consider how we are enjoying the rest that God has offered to us through the completed work of Christ on the Cross. Sometimes that may mean taking some time off, other times it might mean serving someone else, still other times it might mean working our butts off on a project for someone who needs it. What are ways that you are able to enjoy the Sabbath Rest that God has offered you?

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