This month, we’re focusing on Sabbath. The question I’ve heard: Do I have to?
It sounds a lot like when you tell your kids to clean their room or do their homework or brush their teeth, and they whine, “Do I have to?”
I’ve had some interesting discussions with people who seem to lump the Sabbath command in with all the other Old Testament dietary and sacrifice laws (sort of ignoring the fact that resting one day a week is in the 10 commandments, not some obscure corner of Leviticus). And they point to New Testament verses that say we’re free from the law, we live under grace.
They’re right. You don’t “have to” take a day off.
You get to.
Sabbath is a gift. You can spurn it if you want to.
But like many of God’s laws, Sabbath makes sense. We all know what happens when we don’t get enough sleep: our concentration suffers, we get clumsy and ineffective. When we’ve not had enough sleep, we can quickly and accurately point to that deficit as the reason for our fuzziness.
The same is true if we never take a day off, some time to just rest. While we are aware of the symptoms of sleep-deprivation, we are not always able to recognize the symptoms of rest-deprivation.
We don’t make the connection between the stress and anxiety, the anger simmering below the surface, the soul exhaustion–and its cause: lack of rest.
Jesus did not say, “Thou shalt keep the Sabbath.” But he did say, “Are you weary and burdened? Come to me, and I will give you rest.”
So, no, you don’t have to. You get to. Open the gift.