Updated: Jan 21
READ: Mark 2:23-27
Memory Verse: Mark 2:27 Then [Jesus] said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
“Oh… I could never do that. I don’t see how that’s possible.” This is a common response to things I hear after I teach on topics like the Sabbath. You can teach on prayer and people will find that nice and not say much. You can teach on being loving and the sentiment is well received. However, you really know when you have infringed upon values that are above God in our lives when you see the instant defensiveness, “Yea I’m sure that works for others, but that’s not possible for me,” or other iterations of this comment.
This last Sunday I taught on Sabbath as a resistance against workaholism. We discussed how it is so natural for us to place our work at home, our family, or our vocations above God to a point where we are exhausted, short-tempered and lashing out at loved ones or employees, or struggling with inner turmoil or anxiety. God has made the Sabbath for man to find true satisfaction in Him and has also made it to bring delight to our souls, to refresh our spirits and minds in Him and help us flourish in this life. It is not a religious practice that you HAVE to do because God said. It is a practice we have to do because without it we end up dead. God made it for you because God is for you. He made it for you to draw close to him, for you to experience what really matters, to discover true meaning in life and to invest in the relationships and joys that truly fulfill.
In our text today, the Pharisees are upset with Jesus because they believed that Sabbath was a religious rule that could not be crossed in anyway. What Jesus replied was that the whole purpose was for man to be made whole by drawing close to the Lord of your life. So if His disciples ate food and delighted in it while sitting with Jesus, then that’s the purpose. It’s not about the perfect set of rules for the sake of religion.
This Sunday I called people to set apart 24 hours a week, to the best of your ability, to be focused on listening to Jesus, enjoying things God has given you and deepening relationships with God and others. Yet, I heard a decent amount of feedback that this is just not practical to implement into our lives.
Can I have your permission to get all up in your business? Can we be honest? We say things like, “I don’t see how I could ever do that. I have to do XYZ,”, or “I’m not good at that, it’s just not my personality,” etc. Yet we have a lot of things in our lives that we move everything for. Work is the obvious one. If you say, “I couldn’t honor the 4th commandment and spend time with Jesus because I have to work 7 days a week, I don’t have a choice.” Let’s be clear… that is mainly true because you have set work apart as untouchable. The likelihood is you and I haven’t truly asked our employer to honor a day like Sunday for your faith and family. If this is true then that means you have set apart your work or income as holy- something untouchable that can’t be moved for the sake of God and family.
However, I’d also challenge you to consider that there are possibly many things you move work for. Do you catch your favorite football team every weekend? Do you make sure you are at your kid’s games and on time to practices and set aside weekends for that? I admit, it is hard to set apart a day to slow down and just be with God and family and to not do work. It is sincerely difficult for me. However, consider this….
Perhaps it is only hard to set apart something as Holy or untouchable for God because we already have things that are Holy or untouchable to us.
God is for you! He didn’t give you the Sabbath to make you lose out on things but to find true vitality, hopefulness, rest and enjoyment in Him, yourself and others. Perhaps it’s time we put our faith into practice and show Him that, by setting apart this day for Him, we truly trust that our Father is for us and is working things out for our well-being.
Some questions to think or journal about:
1. What is currently Holy in your life (set apart, above other things, untouchable, unmovable)?
2. Do you believe God is really for you? Then how will you live out your faith to show you are FOR GOD?”
Sabbath isn’t a set of rules. It doesn’t have to be the same 24 hours every week. You don’t have to feel shame (like the Pharisees tried to heap on Jesus) because you don’t do it perfectly.
Here’s some practical Sabbath tips:
#1- Your Sabbath could be Sunday all day. Saturday from 5pm to Sunday at 5pm. Whatever. Work it around your family and schedule. If one week you have to work Sunday night, plan ahead and take more time focused on Saturday instead. The main point is to spend a day intentionally seeking God, delighting in his creation and gifts to you and loving people around you better.
#2- If you have a month you know is a busy season full of overtime at work, then do it, but set a Holy limit. “I will only work like this this month”. Without a limit you will fall back into the habit of neglecting God. Even if for that month you set aside 12 hours that you give God each week and then get back to 24 hours after that month, make that 12 hours a rich time of dedicating your mind and life to God. That’s better than you were doing before Sabbathing.
#3- Practice Sabbath WITH your family. Go to church more and really use that time to Sabbath, to enjoy God, to write what you are learning and listen to Him better. Don’t just go through the motions. Take that day to spend time with others not just watch TV. Take that time to pray with others not just sit in the same room.
#4- Remind yourself that God is for you. By elevating Him above other things, He has designed these practices to be the things that truly elevate your lives and spirits.
If you need help on practices to grow deeper with God on your Sabbath, email me and I’d be happy to give some ideas.
God’s Grace & Peace to you,