Abundant Living Vol. XX, Issue 22

“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 one could hardly buy a loaf of bread or bottle of milk on Sunday, mostly due to “blue laws” that existed back then which prohibited the sale of most consumer goods on Sundays.  But it also seems there were more people back then who actually observed the fourth Commandment by honoring the Sabbath.  Regardless, the town was essentially closed for business that one day a week and people took the day off.

It has been said that no one on his or her death bed ever confessed, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”  When I hear that I cannot help but think of my former colleague and dear friend Diane, an extraordinarily smart, talented, and ambitious woman who achieved tremendous success, and seemed to have bright future. She was a tireless worker who put in long hours seven days a week.  It always puzzled me, though, 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 admit I never put in the hours she did.  She and I had many conversations about this, but I remained unsuccessful in convincing her there were more efficient ways to get things done.  Unfortunately, it finally took its toll on her when she suddenly became ill and died shortly thereafter, at way too young an age.  I still grieve when I think of her, feeling somewhat guilty that I was unable to encourage her to cut back her hours and take a break, and teaching her the importance of sabbath time.  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.

That fourth Commandment has always been a tricky one, especially in our work ethic western culture, where we mistakenly perceive that God included it in the Ten so that we might take one day off to pay attention to Him.  Partly true I suppose, but mostly God created Sabbath for our benefit, not his.  Jesus finally had to explain it to us plain and simple, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  When I think back about my small hometown from many years ago, no one seemed to miss buying milk and bread on Sunday – or anything else.  Everyone simply worked six days, then took the seventh day off to rest, relax, and take a deep breath, not to mention those who paused to worship and give thanks to God.  And life went on without missing a beat.

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