“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” – Mark 2:27
Back in the 1950’s and ‘60’s in the small town where I grew up we could hardly buy a loaf of bread or bottle of milk on Sunday, mostly because of “blue laws” that existed in those days which prohibited the sale of most consumer goods on Sundays, though I also believe there were many citizens who actually honored the Sabbath by observing the fourth commandment. Regardless, the town was essentially closed for business that one day a week providing people an opportunity to rest, relax and reflect.
We’ve often heard it said that no one on a death bed ever confessed, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.” When I hear that I’m often reminded of a former colleague and close friend with whom I worked when I was in the corporate world. She was extraordinarily talented, had achieved tremendous success, and seemed to have a bright future. But she worked relentlessly, long hours seven days a week. It always puzzled me that she worked so much, for I held a similar position in the company, achieved comparable success, and also had a promising future, yet I never put in the hours she did. One day I received word that my friend had become gravely ill, and soon thereafter she died – at way too young of an age. I still grieve when I think of her, and even feel a little guilty that I was unable to encourage her to cut back her hours and take a break, showing her the importance of Sabbath. Had I done so, I wonder, would she still be among us, and more importantly with her family? I wish I had convinced her to spend less time at the office.
Man was not made for the Sabbath as we too often misinterpret the fourth commandment; rather, the Sabbath was made for man. Honoring the Sabbath is not meant to restrict us, but to revitalize us so we can live abundantly. As I think back on those times when we were more observant of the Sabbath, no one seemed to miss not buying milk and bread on Sunday – or anything else. We simply worked the other six days and prepared to have a day off to rest, relax, reflect and give thanks, after which we went back to work – invigorated and with a greater sense of purpose. “The Sabbath was made for man …”