“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.” (Exodus 20:8-11)
Keeping Sabbath is an important practice for many who adhere to the Jewish faith. To remember the seventh day and keep it holy is often times interpreted as taking a break from one’s work, spending time with family and friends, and resting. For those who observe this law most strictly, however, refraining from labor encompasses any and all physical tasks. Believe it or not, some adherents go as far as to tear toilet paper from the roll the night before, in preparation, so that they can avoid even the smallest aspect of labor and thereby fully keep the Sabbath day holy. That is some devotion!
As Christians who hold the 10 Commandments to be an important part of God’s law for us to live by, remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy is just as important for us to consider in our daily lives. You may not take it to the same extent as others, yet week-in and week-out many of us unintentionally break this commandment. We do not take the time during the week—whether it is Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, or any day for that matter—to observe the Sabbath as God intends for us. We are too busy, or at least we claim we are, to participate in what some label a luxury. For some of us, if not all, there is 8 days worth of labor…with only 7 in the week to accomplish it. Though if we say this third commandment is given to govern the relationship we share with God, we must confess we have sinned—turning our attention, and ultimately orienting our lives not toward God, but instead toward the ever-growing vicious cycle of workaholism. Fear not, God’s forgiveness covers even this!
God seeks—and as such, commands—us to care for ourselves. We are called to take time each week to set aside our work, stop and rest, just as God takes a break on the seventh day of creation. In keeping the Sabbath day holy we are not only resting from our labors, but we are also affirming the goodness of God’s creation. In the first creation narrative, each day ends with the proclamation: “and God saw that it was good.” Setting aside a special day for rest, as stewards we are able to care for the beautiful creation God forms on the sixth day: ourselves. Obeying this crucial commandment, you and I honor God’s work of creating us and we acclaim with God that, “indeed, it is good!” May you and I both find rest in our busy-ness--rest to relax and recharge, rest to thank God for our work, and rest to live in the goodness that is God’s creation.