What Does It Mean to Sabbath?

As we continue the Follow Me series, we will look at the spiritual discipline of Sabbath. Here are four words to help better understand the practice:


In Exodus we read, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work” (Ex. 20:9-10). Most of our stress comes from ignoring God’s principles. God gave us 10 commandments. The first five are about relationship with God. The last five are about our relationship with others. When these are out of order, life does not make sense. Work is a good thing. Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty.” God worked six days. Jesus was a carpenter. God made us to work, to be productive. Sabbath is when you cease one day from normal work.


When you read the ten commandments in Exodus 20, there is more space given to this one than the others. God had more to say about resting one day than about adultery or murder. This is also only one of two commandments stated positively. The others are, “You shall not….” Sabbath is positive for you. If you take a day to rest, you will be even more productive. When you break the commandments, you break yourself. This fourth commandment carried the death penalty. When we do not sabbath we are killing ourselves! You still need a day to stop normal work. America’s forefathers could not decide so they gave you two days off, a two-day weekend. We live in a unique day and time. People can work from home. You can work from your phone. The blessing of that is convenience. The curse of that is it never stops! You have to be intentional. There is a rhythm to life. There is cold and hot, night and day. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap! You don’t have to accept every invitation. It takes discipline to say no. Sabbath acknowledges the sovereignty of God. You are not in charge. God is! It honors God’s deity and helps our humanity. Manage your time and energy. Vance Havner used to say, “Come apart or you will come apart. Take a break or you will break!” Don’t ignore the rhythms.


Sabbath looks the same for people in that you stop and unplug for one day from your normal work. But it looks different for different people in that you have to find what replenishes you. The problem is not that we are overworked but we are under replenished. The mindset is not to rest from but to rest for. We rest to be able to work, not just rest because we worked. What replenishes you? Do something you normally don’t do. Maybe take a walk, or play golf, or read. Unplug. Put your phone away. God did not rest because He was tired. He rested to enjoy creation. Slow down to enjoy the people God put in your life. Find your own rhythm. Sabbath is not rest but replenish. If you stop and rest the wrong way, you will be depressed and not want to go back to work. Sabbath to or for something, not from something. You can’t run on empty! You have to refill your tank!


Exodus 20:11 says, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Holy means set apart. One day of your week should look totally different from the other six days. It is set apart to acknowledge He is Lord. He is God and you are not. When you do that, the Lord will bless you. The Sabbath is God’s gift to you. It is His blessing to you. Most of our problems come from ignoring God’s principles. God said we are to Sabbath. If you take a day of rest, you will be more productive.


Works Consulted:

Whitney, Donald S.. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, NavPress Publishing Group,

  1. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/liberty/detail.action?docID=5395718.

Sacred Rhythms, Barton

Practicing the Way, Comer

Celebration of Discipline, Foster

Reading the Bible Supernaturally, Piper

Take the Day Off, Robert Morris

Margin, Richard Swenson

Reactivity Limits, Paul David Tripp

No Limits, John Maxwell

Jesus’ Rhythm of Life


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