How to Observe the Sabbath and Stop Worrying About Money

I dare you to tell me that the Fourth Commandment—the commandment to “Remember the Sabbath”—has nothing to do with money (Exo. 20:8).

True, you will not find the word “money” anywhere in the passage. But to ignore its financial overtones would be a grave error.

What you will find is the word "work", and no one I know works forty hours a week for free. We expect a return on our labor. We dedicate that time to our employers in exchange for a wage.

The Fourth Commandment asks us to forgo these pursuits for one day out of the week:

. . . you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. Exodus 20:10b

At first read it is easy to dismiss this part of the commandment. These are just extra words emphasizing that we are not to work, right?

But are there wasted words in the Bible?

God could have just said, “You are not to do any work,” and left it at that. That would cover it. He didn't spell out the affected parties in the other commandments: Thou shall not murder, neither you nor your son or daughter, nor your servants, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns shall murder.

So why did God include this phrase in the commandment?

The answer revolves around money.

You see one could rest from work on the Sabbath but force his servants to work, thereby increasing his wealth. The servants might not even be Israelites, yet God commanded that they do no work in order that the landowner would not be concerned with increasing his yield. Similarly it would not be right for a father to compel his son to work while the father enjoys the Sabbath rest.

The fast-food franchise Chick-fil-A exemplifies this principle. Despite the promise of more money, founder S. Truett Cathy requires that all franchises close on Sunday:

He has often shared that his decision was as much practical as spiritual. He believes that all franchised Chick-fil-A operators and their restaurant employees should have an opportunity to rest, spend time with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so (

I don’t know how much revenue is lost because of this decision, but assuming all days yield the same profit, the company could be making almost 17% more money. In other words, for every $100,000 Chick-fil-A brings in, it could be earning $16,667 more per week by opening on Sundays. 

In a way we could think of this principal as a tithe of our time—time that we could use to make money. And take this into consideration: there are 168 hours in a week. One tenth of that is 16 hours and 48 minutesabout the average amount of time a person is awake on any given day. So just as with our income, maybe we should also tithe our time.

How does the saying go?

Time is money.

Commanding that we take time to rest from work is commanding that we give up cash. And, in doing so, we can learn to stop worrying about money. We can learn to dispossess our possessions for twenty-four hours, acknowledging that God is our only provider.

And if you'd like to read more about how sabbath rest can provide peace in your life, you should read my free guide, Beat Burnout God's Way. Just tell me where to send it:

The guide will give you a two step approach to a healthy work/rest balance. If you're anything like me, you're prone to overdoing it. You enjoy work, but sometimes you feel you can't or shouldn't make time for rest.

Work is a good thing, but only in proper proportions. Read Beat Burnout God's Way, and learn to enjoy the rest only God can provide.

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