July 25, 2020

Keeping the Sabbath

Written by Tripp Prince

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – July 25, 2020

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Exodus 20:8

In Exodus 20 we encounter one of the most well-known and significant passages in the entire Bible, for it is here that we see the gift of God to his people in the form of the Ten Commandments. For the people of Israel, these commandments were a lifeline of sorts, a light from God showing them a way through the storm. Follow them and you will become the women and men God has made you to be, turn away from them and enter into your own self-alienation and anxious toil. God’s law is not given to be a burden but is meant to be received as a gift that welcomes you into his rest.

As I reflect upon these commandments, I wonder if we as Christians are most guilty of violating the call to observe the sabbath and keep it holy? While certain commands seem clear enough, such as not murdering or stealing, the sabbath can at times seem a bit elusive and unclear. How do we continue to observe this ancient command, especially as followers of Jesus in the 21st century?

To sabbath literally means to “stop.” To cease from your activities and your strivings and be still. It requires intentionality and faithful diligence on our part, and so we must actively evaluate the rhythms of our life and choose to give space, not only to work, but to rest. While it is easy to see the value of hard work, are we able to also see the critical need to be people shaped and defined by a life of rest?

If we’re honest, I think we deeply struggle to see the value of rest and ceasing from our labors. Why? Because rest is not productive! And increasingly our society only values that which produces a measurable good, something with clear economic value! And while this worldview may help to ensure the economic machine lives to see another day, it makes it harder and harder for us to see life for what it truly is: a gift.

Philosopher and theologian Josef Pieper beautifully illustrates this truth in his book Leisure: The Basis of Culture, saying, ““The inmost significance of the exaggerated value which is set upon hard work appears to be this: man seems to mistrust everything that is effortless; he can only enjoy, with a good conscience, what he has acquired with toil and trouble; he refused to have anything as a gift.”

You and I are more than the sum of what we produce. Your worth and value before the Lord is not determined by your bank account or how many letters you have after your name. Instead, the sabbath teaches us to live week by week attentive to that which is ultimately true: life is a gift from God, not the fruit of our toil.

Prayer

Father, help us to root our worth and identity, not in what we produce or create, but in the simple fact that we are loved by you and receive life from you as a perfect gift. Amen.


Application

This week, as you are able, set aside a full 24 hours to cease from striving and work and instead rest in the presence of God and be refreshed as you delight in his presence.


Related Reading

Genesis 2:3; Deuteronomy 5:15; Isaiah 58:13-14

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