Jesus and Your Sabbath Day

When [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom.  (Luke 4:16)

I sometimes hear people say, “I work 24/7, 365.”  Some say it with swagger, others with despair.  I’m not disparaging how hard these people work, but 24/7, 365?  What are they thinking?  What are they doing to themselves, their family, and their souls?

Jesus honored the Sabbath Day, which means that He didn’t work 24/7.  If the Son of God didn’t work every minute of every day, doesn’t this suggest that we also need to rest and that working 24/7 isn’t healthy?  Doesn’t it seem presumptuous to try out-working Jesus?

I believe God understands that some people are sometimes “on call.”  I’m not talking about these situations.  I’m talking about the folks who are chronically on call, whose pace never varies, who are always flat-out.  Jesus gives people who work 24/7 this warning: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

I’ve spent a lot of time with people who are saying goodbye to this life.  It’s a great privilege to be with them as they come to terms with their life and their death, what they have done and haven’t done.  Perhaps more than any other time, I’ve seen people do some very serious work with their faith, with God, with their hearts and souls, and with their relationships.

At such times, I’ve never heard anyone say they were sorry they didn’t go to one more meeting, teach one more class, do one more operation, try one more case, or build one more building.  What I’ve heard, however, is many people lamenting how much life they missed by working not just hard but perpetually, frantically, and manically.  Sometimes their 24/7 focus caused their marriage to bust up.  Sometimes it caused them to miss their children’s childhood.  Sometimes it undermined their health.  Sometimes it damaged their connection to God.

I hope today’s reflection will encourage someone who has been saying that they work 24/7 to stop. Stop, and breathe. Stop, and pray. Stop, and do your soul work; work you can’t do work 24/7.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Do you take Sabbath time? That is, do you reserve a part of your week, even a part of every day, for God?
  1. Has the pace of your life or work ever caused you to neglect the people or the commitments that are most important to you? If so, are there any amends and repairs you need to make?
  1. Are you leading a balanced life now? A balance between work and play?  Between activity and rest? Between making a difference in the world and leaving room for God to make a difference in you?

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