By Craig Funston
“Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy” is the fourth of ten commandments that we are looking at, and easily the hardest one so far for me to apply in a practical sense. I don’t think I struggle seriously with competing deities, graven idols, or bad language (ie., the first three commandments).
Well, a little lapse here and there, but in the main, I think I have a handle on a hands-on response to the Ten Commandments, so far. But the this fourth one? I find it hard to take a regular break.
To repeat: This brief series on the Ten Commandments is based on the premise that we would (absolutely and definitely) have a better society if we implemented the Ten Commandments (also known as the Decalogue) in our personal lives, family lives, and every other aspects of our daily lives.
This is not a hint about Shariah law, nor any other form of theocracy. And the disastrous series of the ragtag religious quest called the Crusades is an example of that; the Inquisition would be another. And while we’re at it, converting to Islam at the point of a knife is yet another example of what I’m not writing about.
Without using this column as a pulpit, I am firmly convinced in my mind and by my experience that when the Bible is applied in every area of life, it works. That is, it works financially, sexually, morally, ethically, physically, emotionally—and any other word that ends in “ly” and that fits into this list.
Today’s commandment (layman’s terms: “take time off or set times aside every week on a regular basis”) would be helpful, when applied to each of our lives. Honouring the Sabbath (and not necessarily in a religious sense) was the norm until about thirty years ago, when the doors blew off protecting families and businesses from the frenetic rat race of a seven-day work week.
I am not aware of studies (and yes, I have looked for them) that show that we are better off by not remembering (= “marking”) the Sabbath. Contrariwise, a Dr. Sleeth, a former emergency room medical doctor, cited a serious growth in anxiety and depression as a result of not remembering the Sabbath. I believe he called it an “epidemic.”
I think there is the sense, in the one extreme, that we’re under the gun to go, slave, produce, and rarely let up. There is no quality time for ourselves, our marriages, our families and friends. Consider the positives of taking time out matter of hobbies, outlets and leisure time. We need a break from working all the time.
(The other extreme, of course, is that systemic laziness, that lack of energy and initiative, that do-as-little-as-possible, with a “it’s not my job” mentality. This is one reason why there is an unemployment epidemic: too many people just don’t work.)
One extreme is that we can slow down our work pace; the other extreme is that we won’t even start working. I’m talking about the former.
Sabbath simply means “to cease from your labour” and it has its origins the creation of the world, where the Creator-God rested on the seventh day (our Saturday). The nature of this column does not allow me to delve in to the myriad restrictions and consequent punishments for not obeying the laws of the Sabbath. Suffice to say, they were very severe.
You are free to read about them yourself. I would even supply the Bible (free of charge, of course).
There is a religious order, other than Jews, who honour the Saturday as their Sabbath—thus, they are known as Seventh-Day Adventists. Other people call Sunday the “Christian Sabbath,” even though there is no such thing. But I do understand their drift; I just don’t see it from Scripture.
I posit that if we could stop the desperate cycle of go-go-go and push-push-push, we would be better off. And that’s starting with our bodies, minds, and souls. Too many of us are a driving and driven people, and while I laud initiative and ambition, how much good is too much good?
Another source suggests the many benefits resulting in taking time off—really taking time off and not simply re-shuffling or re-naming it– as follows: reset one’s focus, mentally, emotionally, and physically; feel more productive upon returning to work or any other task at hand; getting life and work into balance, for starters.
I should stop now. You know, I’ve places to go, people to see, things to do, and I need to get them done before I collapse in bed—only to push myself tomorrow.
In fact, my day of rest gets so full, I need a sabbath from my Sabbath.