Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 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 manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 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
Why is the fourth commandment one of the hardest one for most Christians to keep? I mean, “Do not kill” is easy enough to keep. “Do not steal” is doable. “Do not commit adultery” is a big enough one for most of us to take seriously. However, number four tends to get excused away, if not outright ignored. Breaking the fourth commandment is justified by generally reasonable sounding arguments.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not pointing fingers. I’m just as guilty as the next person. Sunday is often my down-to-the-wire, put-it-off-till-the-last-minute time to check schoolwork and write lessons plans before it’s time to start a new school week. And, there are those never-ending piles of laundry. And, blogging. And, cooking. And, shopping. Aside from going to church in the morning and taking a nap in the afternoon, Sunday, my family’s Sabbath day, often doesn’t look any different than any other the day of the week.
What does it mean to keep the Sabbath “holy.” The simplest definition of “holy” is set apart. So, what does a “set apart” Sabbath day look like? And, how do you keep it from becoming legalistic?
I’ve pondered these questions for awhile and I don’t really have any answers. I can imagine how refreshed I might feel on Monday, if I had a day of downtime. Spending some time resting, reading or playing with the kids would go a long way toward re-energizing me and reconnecting my family. But would the stress of things going undone crowd out any pleasure in the day or, at the very least, cause me to regret it come Monday morning?
Again, so that there are no misunderstandings, Sunday isn’t a busy-from-sun-up-to-sun-down kind of day for me, but it can tend to be a catch up day.
I’ve seen suggestions about getting your clothes and things ready the night before, so that Sunday morning goes smoothly. We go to a really casual church, so that part isn’t much of an issue for us. I don’t have to worry about the dog snagging my hose on the way out the door because I don’t wear hose. Basically, as long as the laundry is caught up, everyone is going to be able to find something suitable to wear. I don’t even have to worry about fixing breakfast, since pastries and coffee are served for thirty minutes before church begins.
I suppose I could prepare Sunday’s meals the night before, if I could carve out time on a busy Saturday for that. I used to hardly ever be on the computer on the weekends, but these days that would truly be a sacrifice. Not an unworthy one, but a sacrifice nonetheless. Certainly, there would be nothing wrong with spending a little more time in prayer and Bible study or listening to my favorite pastors online (See? There I am back on the computer again.), but do these things have the makings of a day set apart?
You know, as I sit here typing this (on Saturday night, btw), it occurs to me something I’ve told my kids time and again: God doesn’t give us an arbitrary list of do’s and don’ts. Every precept He gives us is because He knows what’s best for us. I imagine that when He told us to keep the Sabbath day holy, it wasn’t simply to keep it a day to honor Him, which would be enough in and of itself. It was probably also that He knew that we need a day of rest, that day to recharge and reconnect. Looking at it in that light makes me want to really take a closer look at what our family’s Sabbath day looks like.
God loves us enough to care about our needs and He has promised to meet all of them (Philippians 4:19), but He also requires our obedience. And, maybe, He uses our obedience to meet our needs…even the ones we may not fully realize that we have.
So, what does a Sabbath day look like at your house? Is it a day that is set apart? If so, I’d love to hear some of the things that you do – or don’t do – to make it so.