Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Honor the Sabbath to Keep it Holy -- Part 1

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.  In it you shall do no work:  you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Exodus 20:8-11
What does the fourth commandment mean to you?  Have you thought much about it?  I have thought about it for a while and considered writing these posts for just as long.  Here are my thoughts about the Sabbath which we celebrate on Sunday.  I'm certainly no expert on the Sabbath; these are just my thoughts, and you can and should take them with a grain of salt.

We all know that we shouldn't work on Sunday, but exactly what does that mean?  I think we can agree that cleaning the entire house or doing all of the laundry qualifies as work.  But what about things like reading books, cooking a nice Sunday dinner, or knitting?  Then there are things like preparing simple meals and cleaning up afterwards.  And what if there's a sick child and there's an emergency load of laundry?  What about these situations?

I've divided these things up into four categories:
  1. Unnecessary work.  I put things like cleaning the entire house in this category because we should refrain from this type of work on Sunday.  Why?  It's not necessary, and God commands us to rest on the Sabbath.  And cleaning the entire house certainly is not restful!
  2. Gray areas.  You may enjoy cooking a gourmet Sunday dinner for your family even though it sounds like work to me.  So I try not to cook much on Sunday.  You may not enjoy things like knitting; since it's work for you, you should refrain.  But I enjoy knitting and reading, so I do those things.  That's why I call this category the "gray area."  
  3. Necessary work.  Even making a simple meal for your family is work, and the dishes need to be done afterwords, and that is work.  I don't think that God intends for our families to go hungry on Sunday, so I think preparing meals and cleaning up afterwards is necessary and therefore permitted.  
  4. "Ox in a ditch" work.  This type of work isn't necessary most Sundays, but sometimes an emergency happens.  There's an accident that has to be cleaned up, or there's a sick child who makes it necessary to do some laundry.  Our "ox is in a ditch," and I think God doesn't mind this type of work, either.  
What about going out to eat or shopping on Sunday?  I think that falls into not having your servants work.  No, those employees are not your servants, but you do require them to work when you show up to eat or shop.  It's more honoring to God when we stay home on Sunday, and do our eating out and shopping on other days.

What are your thoughts about the Sabbath?  Do you treat it differently than the other six days of the week?

Next week, I plan to tackle the question, "If we can't do any work, what can we do?  What should we do?"

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