“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” -Jesus Christ (Mark 2:27)
How Jesus Loved People
Jesus loved people effectively by keeping the Sabbath.
How to Love Like Jesus
Looking back, the times in my life when I was enthusiastically keeping the Sabbath were the times I was loving people more like Jesus. But there have been a few times in my life when the cult of busy-ness caused the Sabbath to become a casualty.
One such time was when we built our house at 4347 Murry Hill Terrace. I decided to serve as my own general contractor. I’d never done anything like that before. That house was the biggest financial investment I’ve ever made and I felt I needed to spend every spare minute on it. It was very consuming. Besides coordinating the subcontractors, I did everything I could to make it work financially: I drilled holes in studs for the electrician, I screwed down decking for the framers, I laid down a hardwood floor. I did anything and everything I could.
And for awhile, on Sundays, I cleaned the job site.
“Yeah,” I thought to myself, “I know it’s Sunday, but I’ll listen to the church service on the radio. And I’ll make up for the loss of family time later. It’s only for awhile.”
At the time my oldest son was engaged to be married. Sadly, because of the big push to build the house, I wasn’t engaged in my relationship with my son. Here he was at one of the most important junctures of his entire life, but I wasn’t available. Much of the time and energy normally spent on God and family on Sundays, I spent on building that house. I rationalized it in my head: “Well, he’s a man now,” I thought. “He has to learn to be independent,” I reasoned. “His family is made up of he and his wife now,” I told myself.
My son is so gracious about this. I’ve brought it up numerous times and his response is always the same. He very generously denies there was any problem. But I think there was a change in our relationship because of it. I also experienced some health problems as a result of living without Sabbaths, but my most painful regret by far is how my relationship with God and my son was compromised during that time.
Sometimes by making a big push you can accomplish great things financially, professionally, or even for God’s kingdom. But if you’re making a run at something, be careful. Compromising your relationship with Christ and your family in order to focus on a project isn’t a part of God’s plan. If you neglect the Sabbath, it may result in consequences. When I lived my life apart from the rhythm of God’s Sabbath, there was a price to pay physically, emotionally, and relationally.
Jesus practiced the Sabbath. Jesus lived in God’s divine rhythm. We see that throughout the Gospels. If you search the New Testament scriptures for instruction on the Sabbath, you’ll find, whether or not we should practice the Sabbath was never even discussed. The only issue Jesus brought up concerning the Sabbath was how we should practice it.
I think His keeping the Sabbath was one of the reasons Jesus was so remarkable when it came to loving people. He explained God’s heart concerning the Sabbath in Mark 2:23-28. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” He said. So the Sabbath was made for you, and for me. The Sabbath was made so we can rest, so we can have a day devoted to loving God and loving people, and to recharge — so we can accomplish more for God’s kingdom.
I don’t know about you but when I’m tired and burned out, it’s so much more difficult to love people. When I’m tired, I’m not very much fun to be around. When I’m burned out, my enthusiasm deserts me. I step on the pedal but there’s no gas in the tank, so when the Holy Spirit tells me to go love on someone — I just don’t go.
That’s what happened while building the house, I just didn’t have the energy, or the time, to devote to my son in the way I needed to.
When you keep the Sabbath as Jesus did, there’s a certain rhythm to your life. And living in that rhythm will result in a greater capacity to love God, your family, and others.
Living in God’s rhythm will help you to love people like Jesus loved people.
So keep the Sabbath.
[Image via daniel dimarco, Creative Commons]
[You might also like: Jesus’ Diet, Exercise, and Rest — Really?, Do We Really Need a Sabbath? by Pete Wilson]
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Lovely article, thanks so much was a really blessing.
You make a lot of good points here Kurt. We do need rest, and I am certainly guilty of being to busy!
Me too. Today it seems busy-ness is a favorite tactic of the enemy, to keep us from focusing on Christ. Of course there’s a balance here. Industriousness is a good thing, just not apart from God’s rhythm and His Holy Spirit’s leadings.
Thanks for stopping by Greg.
While I concur with your thoughts, Kurt, and see the clear validity of the scriptural mandate, I find keeping the Sabbath in terms of church going itself very difficult to do. My numerous health problems and great need for rest and sleep have made attending church this year almost impossible to accomplish. Yet I feel that God knows my situation of chronic sickness (which is far from rare) and as I make time to meet with Him and fellowship with other believers in my own way, I believe He blesses those things just the same. A lot of people have a great desire to be at church but little choice in being able to do so. Accepting the rhythms of grace may also mean making space for a variety of ways of fellowshipping with the Lord that are no less precious than the traditional. 🙂
I couldn’t agree with you more Joy! I went through a season of health problems myself and missed many Sabbaths during that time. God knows when we’re not capable of going to church and blesses our efforts accordingly. Clearly your situation is in a different category from what I’m addressing in this post.
Your point is an important one and I appreciate you bringing it to light.