What’s the Benefit of Practicing Sabbath?
by Chris Hodges
It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lordmade the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.
Think honestly about your life right now. Do you ever get tired just thinking of all that you’ve got to do today, this week, this month? Do you feel just as tired on Monday morning as you do on Friday afternoon? With today’s high-pressure lifestyle, not only may you feel physically fatigued, you may run out of emotional, mental, and spiritual energy as well.
If you want to experience a breath of fresh air in your life, then you have to resist the temptation to keep going at the same hurried, hectic pace all the time. You need true rest in your life. Fortunately for us, God’s Word clearly tells us one of the main ways we can find balance in our lives and experience true rest: by honoring the Sabbath.
Some people say that keeping the Sabbath was simply part of Old Testament law. But what we must realize is that all of God’s laws were designed with our well-being in mind. The motivation behind a law is what we should be focused on, not the external logistics of how it’s exercised. So to understand this day of rest, we need to understand the origin of the word and the concept behind it. The word Sabbath was derived from the Hebrew word shabbat, which comes from the Hebrew verb shavat. Both words refer to a stop in the normal routine, to actively and deliberately cease function. It’s a concept, not a day on the calendar. The idea means taking one day out of seven to stop doing what we’ve been doing and focus on restoration, relaxation, and renewal.
So the idea of Sabbath is to stop working for wages and competing for rewards. Stop running and going and striving and doing and just be. When was the last time you weren’t worried about what time it was? When was the last time you weren’t on the clock? Maybe for some of us, a real way to honor and enjoy the Sabbath would be to go a whole day each week without looking at our watches.
Sabbath is about playing and relaxing. Reading and studying spiritual material—not because you have to but because you want to. Taking leisurely strolls outdoors and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. Talking and enjoying the company of your family. Attending church services and worshiping with others. Praying and meditating. Spending time with God without feeling obligated or rushed. Just hanging out together.
At the heart of it, Sabbath is a day to celebrate our freedom from human rules and regulations and to remember our real purpose: to love God and to serve his Kingdom.
Why is this so vital to our well-being? As we conquer and create all week long, we can easily develop an inflated and self-centered idea of our own power, our own self-sufficiency. The Sabbath is a constant reminder that for one day a week, we are dispensable to work and to the world but not to our families, our community, or to God.
I think you’ll find that when you practice the Sabbath fully, these times of rest and reflection can become the most productive moments of your week.