So far in these blogs about Sabbath I have made the case that Sabbath is a symbol of commitment between God and God’s people (a wedding ring) and that Sabbath is a sign of resistance to the world’s view of people and life. But it is more than just a symbol and it is more than just resistance. Sabbath is also a major tool that God uses to help us love our God and love our neighbor.
Consider the place and role of the Sabbath in the 10 commandments in Exodus 20. There are 3 commandments about God—no other Gods, no idols, and no taking the Lord’s name in vain. There are 6 commandments about neighbor—honor father and mother, don’t murder, no adultery, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness against neighbor or lie, and don’t covet.
Sabbath sits in the list right between these 2 sets. It is by far the longest commandment and it is the hinge between the two sets. Sabbath is how we start to take our relationship with God and live it out. It is the mechanism God uses to help us live out our faith with our neighbors.
But how does Sabbath help us love God and love neighbor?
- Sabbath keeps us connected to God. In Psalm 46:10 God tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” How can we stay connected with God if we are never still? We need to Sabbath so that we can stay connected with God. Otherwise our lives will tend to crowd God out.
- Sabbath keeps us aware of our neighbors. If we are busy few tend to lose sight of others. I don’t even see my neighbors when I am rushing to get somewhere. Sabbath gives us space to notice the needs around us.
- Sabbath helps us to not stop coveting. Coveting is last commandment for a reason. It is often coveting that leads to the other sins listed, and it is Sabbath that helps us to deal with it. When we are satisfied, we can trust God and there is no need to harm others. We need the Sabbath to help us stay connected to God so that we do not covet.
- Sabbath keeps us rested and at our best. Have you ever noticed that if you are really tired or really stressed you tend to have a shorter fuse? Sabbath gives us rest so that we have the ability to choose our emotional responses to situations instead of just reacting to life.
Do you have trouble trusting God? Do you have trouble having empathy for others? My first question for you is—what is your Sabbath habit like?