The Secret of Honoring God on the Sabbath

I am a hard-core Kansas City Chiefs fan.

During the NFL season I soak in as many highlights, news stories, predictions and box scores as I can. My brother and I have even gone as far as to sync up the television (using DVR) with the radio so that we can listen to the Chiefs’ own broadcasters.

The problem is that most NFL games are on Sundays.

From ages 12 to 17, I lived in the Pacific Time Zone. So what used to be noon kickoffs when I lived in Kansas were now at 10 AM—the heart of church time.

Like a good Christian (and pastor’s son) I chose church over Chiefs.

Or did I?

Though I was physically present, my mind was elsewhere once the clock struck ten. I wondered who won the coin toss, if anyone had scored yet.

As soon as we heard the benediction, I would rush to find out.

Do you think that I was honoring God by my preoccupation?

Just because my butt was in the seat does not mean that my heart was. I am pretty sure that God would actually want the reverse of me: someone who skipped church to be at Arrowhead Stadium yet took a few moments to make a sincere prayer to the LORD.

Remembering the Sabbath is more than just attending church. 

Yes, I think that going to church is an important spiritual discipline. But if we filter commandment four through the Greatest Commandment, then we will actually understand the spirit of the law

When Jesus said that “all the Law and Prophets hang on these” (Matt. 22:40), He was not exaggerating. That is why He had no qualms about healing on the Sabbath even though in the Hebrew tradition it was considered labor. He was healing out of love for his neighbor (see the parable of the Good Samaritan) which supersedes cultural traditions. 

The beauty of these commandments is that they cannot be quantified.

A human court cannot judge how we love, because only God knows our hearts (1 Chronicles 28:9). Sin, as well as love, originates in the heart. Jesus says, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19).

You see one can lust after a woman yet not commit physical adultery with her. One can hate someone yet not murder him.

Similarly, we can abstain from work on the Sabbath and still violate the commandment. Amos 8:4-6 is a good example:

Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, “When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?”— skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.

Even though they were following the Sabbath rules, their hearts were far from where they should be. They were not doing what was disallowed on the Sabbath—selling grain—but in their hearts, that is all they were thinking about.

Technically, they were obeying the rules. Problem is, their hearts were elsewhere.

The secret then to honoring God on the Sabbath is not found in obeying rules, but in giving Him your heart. Do that, and the rest will follow.

Where is your heart today?


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