Church Worship

5 Essential Reasons to Practice Sabbath

  • Amanda Idleman Contributing Writer
  • 2020 21 May
5 Essential Reasons to Practice Sabbath

Sabbath once was a sacred and protected sacrament. A sabbath is defined as a day of religious observance and abstinence from work. Recently, my kids and I listened to “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingels Wilder and were amazed by the strict description of how Sunday sabbath was observed during this time. Families spend the day enforcing no playing, talking, or doing much of anything. This level of strict observance of a Sabbath is hard to imagine in our modern world, where life keeps going at full speed 24/7.

Thankfully, we’ve embraced a more grace-filled approach to our seventh day of the week. This begs the question, “Is the concept of Sabbath still applicable to our modern lives?” Are there consequences for pushing ourselves to be “productive” seven days out of the week? Does going harder really mean we accomplish more? Should we protect sabbath as a part of our routine?  What do we gain when we schedule strategic pauses in our lives?

These are important and practical questions for every believer, as we now live in a culture that is obsessed with optimizing our time and productivity.

The fact is how we use our time has real consequences. Time is a finite commodity in our lives.

Intentional decisions about how we use our days is an important part of wise-living. We see this truth simply put in Psalm 90:12 which says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

God has real reasons for instructing and modeling for us the practice of taking a Sabbath that we would be wise to pay attention to. He created us with real limits and a real need for Him. Sabbath is just one way that we are reminded that God is our provider.

Time and time again, we see that in His economy, He does more with our obedience—even if in many ways that means we are doing less than others. When we follow God’s commands, he multiplies our time and resources. Let's look at six reasons Sabbath is essential:

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  • 1. Practicing Sabbath Honors God’s Example

    1. Practicing Sabbath Honors God’s Example

    At the start of the Bible is an account of God’s creation of our world. He worked making our known universe for six days straight and then on the seventh day He rested, setting the 7th day apart as “holy” or “sacred” (Genesis 2:2-3).

    God set the precedent for intentional use of our time. God did not need a day off, He elected to set apart time to enjoy the work He had just done!

    Many of us may not feel the need to press pause on our workflow. Working hard past the Monday through Friday 9-5 may not leave us exhausted, yet God shows us that we need to be intentional about balancing the work and reflection.

    Part of worship requires that we reflect on and remember the things God has done (Psalm 143:5). This only happens when we make the choice to take some of our time and dedicate it to the Lord.

    We so quickly lose sight of the things that matter in our lives. Just as the Isrealites quickly turned to grumbling when things started to get difficult (even after God had performed countless miracles on their behalf) we forget what God has done for us and His mission for our lives.

    Sabbath is the intentional practice of forcing on minds and hearts to refocus on the beauty of God’s provision in our lives. At the end of God’s 6 days of creation, He knew his work was good! He didn’t want to blow past creation’s majesty...He wanted to soak it in.

    Sabbath allows us to “soak in” God’s presence, to reflect on His good gifts, to meditate on His promises, and to reconnect with Him so our lives can be lived with proper perspective.

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    2. Practicing Sabbath Leaves us Refreshed

    Exodus 23:12 says, “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.”

    God takes His example set in Genesis and turns it into a command for His people. This command has a purpose though, which was that they would be refreshed. God’s commands are not about God setting restrictive rules but they set boundaries as a part of His way of looking out for us.

    Mark 2:27 says, “Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.” While Sabbath is emphasized and recommended all throughout the Bible, it’s purpose is not for us to get hung up on fulfilling another spiritual requirement.

    God is bigger than Sabbath and loves us even if our lives limit us from taking an entire day for rest and spiritual reflection. God sees us and desires the best for our lives! In Matthew 11:29, Jesus graciously says he desires to bring rest for our weary souls.

    In your quest to implement the practice of observing Sabbath, be reminded it’s not about perfection, it’s about connecting to God and recognizing Him as the oh-so-necessary refresher of your soul!

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    3. Practicing Sabbath Enables Us to Live with the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’

    How many times have you blown up on your people and then immediately offered an apology and the explanation that you are “just so exhausted?” As a mom and wife, I am so-very-guilty of this! I too often ignore my limitations and push myself past tired straight into the realm of utter exhaustion.

    Somehow, I am still completely shocked when I begin cracking at even the slightest sign of irritation. It’s really an insane cycle, driven by a pride that says: I can do it all on my own and I am limitless.

    Practicing Sabbath is an act of humility. You are acknowledging that you are a creature made with limitations. It honors the wisdom set out by God in scripture, outlining the best way to serve Him and serve others well. Practically, it helps us emerge for our own survival modes so we can have the self-control required to love the people around us well.

    It’s living out the idea we find in Psalm 23:5 that we serve others from a “cup that is running over.”

    The Bible instructs us to live with the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22- 23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Tired people are less likely to be patient, kind, self-controlled, and joyful—and more likely to be short, rude, in a hurry, and volatile.

    Sabbath is a practical way to protect and make room for the Holy Spirit to be evident in the way we live our daily lives.

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  • 4. Practicing Sabbath Strengthens the Faith of Your Family

    4. Practicing Sabbath Strengthens the Faith of Your Family

    Our faith is not meant to stop with us; it is a gift we are called to share with others. Our home and family unit is one of the most important places that we can work to share the good news of Jesus. We want to set an example for our children and create routines in our home that integrate our faith into every aspect of our lives.

    Psalm 78:4 says, “We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders.” It is up to us to share the testimony of God’s glorious goodness to our children. Faith in God is the most valuable thing we can pass onto our children.

    Practicing Sabbath creates a routine for our homes that ensures we set aside time as a family to relax together...but it also makes time for us to focus on our faith. The Sunday routine of getting up and going to church together sends a message to your kids that connecting to your faith matters to you. It gives them the chance to interact with others in the community that share the same beliefs.

    Proverbs 22:6 says, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” One of the most powerful teaching tools we have as parents is modeling. Our behavior speaks volumes to our kids as to what matters most in life and what is acceptable behavior. Kids have a sixth sense for hypocrisy.

    God’s word instructs us to pause in our week to worship. If we want to pass this value onto our kids, then we have to live it out.

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  • 5. Practicing Sabbath Keeps You Connected to God

    5. Practicing Sabbath Keeps You Connected to God

    Matthew 6:22 says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Surprisingly these verses are actually talking about money. Jesus explains that you can’t serve both God and money. The truth is what we focus our “eyes on” or “give our attention to” are the things that we serve and connect to most.

    We see this at work in all of our relationships. If you go too long without talking to your spouse you start feeling irritated and forgotten. If you haven’t talked to a friend for weeks on end you start to wonder if the relationship really matters anymore. If we want to know our kids well we have to spend time being with our kids.

    Being connected to God and the people we love takes work.

    If our desire is to live a life in relationship with Jesus, then we have to make time to connect with him.

    Sabbath is an essential way to focus your attention on Jesus. That could be through attending a church service, reading the Bible, singing worship songs to God, praying, being in nature, creating, connecting to a community of believers, or listening to an insightful sermon. God speaks in a variety of ways, but we know we hear him best when we commit time to focusing our hearts on him.

    Psalm 51:12 says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Practicing Sabbath is one of the ways God “restores the joy of our salvation.” It’s a chance to set aside distractions and work to allow God’s rest and presence to restore your soul.

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    cropped headshot of author Amanda IdlemanAmanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for the Daily Bible Devotions App, she has work published with Her View from Home, also for the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her blog or follow her on Instagram.