Sabbath Day Observance: An Outward Expression of an Inner Commitment to God
What Sign Am I Showing to God?
I recently heard a speaker at church refer to the Sabbath day as an outward expression of an inward commitment to God, and that statement really sunk deep into my soul.
I reflected on my own Sabbath day observance and wasn't sure that all of my activities were expressing the type of commitment to my Heavenly Father than I want to have.
"In my much younger years, I studied the work of others who had compiled lists of things to do and things not to do on the Sabbath. It wasn’t until later that I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, “What sign do I want to give to God?” That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear."
Spencer W. Kimball once said:
"The observance of the Sabbath is an indication of the measure of our love for our Heavenly Father."
I have to confess that I've gone through most of my life trying to figure out the dos and don'ts of the Sabbath, and I'm grateful for the new perspective that I have gained as of late.
I'm not going to give a list of dos and dont's here. I think that's a personal matter, and I trust that everyone who reads it will be able to do as Russell M. Nelson suggested and adjust their Sabbath day activities in order to align them with the sign they want to show to God.
What Do the Scriptures Say About the Importance of the Sabbath?
There are many scriptures that refer to Sabbath day observance, but I will just list a few here to give context to the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy.
- Exodus 20:8-11- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.
- Exodus 31:13- Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.
- Ezekiel 20:20-And hallow my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.
God only gave ten commandments to Moses to bring down to the Israelites, and if the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy was important enough to make it into the top ten back then, I think we could definitely afford to give it a little bit more attention now.
The fact that the importance of Sabbath Day observance is reiterated in the scriptures over and over again is a testimony to me that the way I spend my Sabbath matters to Heavenly Father.
God has given me everything that I have, and I know there's no way I could ever repay that debt. I'm not expected too.
On the other hand, when I think about all that he has done for me, it motivates me to want to do more for him.
I am so grateful for everything that I have. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ, so much. I want to make my life a sign of gratitude, love, and dedication to them.
I try to keep my focus on serving the Lord all the time, but sometimes life gets crazy and I lose track of what's really important.
Certainly, I can afford to set aside the activities I normally enjoy and dedicate my whole heart to worshiping and serving the Lord just one day out of the week.
- Feast Upon The Words of Christ
Are you ever bored, anxious, or just plain unsatisfied with life? It could be that a hefty serving of the scriptures is what you need to find the fulfillment your soul is craving.
Blessings Associated With Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy
Whenever God gives his people a commandment, there are always blessings associated with it. In fact, one of my favorite scriptures is Doctrine and Covenants 59:4 where it says:
"And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few."
I love how this scripture puts blessings and commandments in the same category.
Later on in verses nine and ten of the same section it says:
"And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;"
What a beautiful promise that we may keep ourselves "unspotted from the word" if we honor the Sabbath day! The world we live in is a crazy place, and I consider it a great blessing to have the strength to live in the world without becoming spotted by it.
Those who choose to keep the Sabbath day holy receive the fortification they need to receive this blessing throughout the rest of the week.
I also love chapter 58 of Isaiah where the blessings of fasting and observing the Sabbath are discussed.
Issaiah 58:13-14 reads:
"If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
These aren't just beautiful words. These are amazing promises for those who choose to turn away from their own ways, their own pleasures, and their own words on the Sabbath so that they can honor the Lord.
Making the Sabbath a Delight
As I said before, my intention in writing this isn't to make a list of things that should or shouldn't be done on the Sabbath, but I can testify that in trying to consciously make my Sabbath day observance a sign of my commitment to God, I've discovered that it is a delightful experience.
Growing up, my Sabbaths were often stressful, because I had procrastinated and left everything that had to be done by Monday for Sunday night.
Now my Sabbaths are peaceful, contemplative times when I can truly focus on growing closer to the Lord.
I think it's important to remember that in Mark 2:27, Jesus said:
"The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath."
Heavenly Father isn't trying to punish us by not allowing us to get caught up in the busyness of the world on the Sabbath, he has given us the Sabbath so that we have a day to become spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically rejuvenated as we grow closer to him.
I grew up singing a song at church about how Saturday is a special day when we can get ready for Sunday.
This song has good advice, because it takes effort to make sure that my Sunday can be a day of rest, and certainly getting work done on Saturday is better than saving it for the Sabbath.
More recently I've realized that if I take this song a little bit further, it can enrich my Sabbath day experience and my whole life even more.
I now realize that every day is a special day that I can get ready for Sunday. As I keep Sabbath preparation on my mind throughout the whole week starting with Monday, I've not only found that my Saturdays are less stressful, but also that I do a better job of keeping my mind on the Lord throughout the week.
I'm not saying that everybody else has to prepare for the Sabbath the exact same way that I do, but I am suggesting that it takes a little bit of effort up front to make the "Sabbath a delight."
Putting a stronger emphasis on my Sabbath day observance has truly been a blessing for me, and I know that if you choose to make the Sabbath a day when your activities are a symbol to the Lord of your dedication to Him, your Sabbaths will become a delight as well.