- Do you regularly feel on edge?
- Are you easily frustrated by the smallest of things?
- No matter how hard you work, do you feel you’re not as productive as you could be?
These may be signs that you are in desperate need of rest. Rest is a key element to our productivity and longevity.
From the beginning of time, God embedded a rhythm of rest into our DNA. Genesis 2 and Deuteronomy 5 teach us two core truths about this rest.
#1 The Sabbath was established to rest from work. Genesis 2
When God rested on the seventh day, He did so to establish a means of rest for humanity. This spiritual discipline provided physical restoration.
#2 The Sabbath is tied to God’s covenant relationship with Israel. Deuteronomy 5
This added a broader context to the Sabbath as a reminder that God was Israel’s deliverer, physically and spiritually.
As the concept of Sabbath is firmly rooted in the Old Testament, this leads us to the question, “As a New Testament believer, do I need to observe this Old Testament commandment?” Paul provides us with an answer from Romans 14.
Our bodies have limits and will eventually break down without rest. The spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak.
People sometimes associate rest with laziness or being unproductive, but it’s a practice that maximizes our impact and lives.
- How many times have you slept for an extended time only to wake up feeling more tired?
- How often have you returned from a vacation and needed a vacation from your vacation?
Genuine rest is undeniably tied to the principle of the Sabbath.
Before we unpack Paul’s response, let’s make two basic observations from Romans 14.
#1 Weak faith is not the same as no faith.
Paul uses the term weak faith as a description, not in a judgmental way. This influences his approach to the matter. It would be a wrong assumption to read this passage and conclude that a person of weak faith is less of a believer or not a believer at all.
#2 He appeals to the unity of the church.
The issue at hand is not a primary matter but a secondary one. A primary matter would be someone teaching how there’s more than one way to be saved. Or there are others god’s than the God of the Bible.
Secondary issues should not be divisive. Jesus died for the church, so the least we can do is sacrifice our differences to keep the unity.
I have heard of people leaving churches because they didn’t like the choice of carpet or paint. Some have left a church because there were drums in the sanctuary.
Paul appeals to believers to maintain unity by stating that we are to welcome those of weaker faith, not to debate and argue with them to change their minds.
The word “welcome” is a Greek word that means to receive or accept. There are no conditions or requirements attached. When it comes to secondary matters, we are to put people over preferences.
It’s human nature to automatically assume that how we worship or live for God is how others need to. When we do this, we make ourselves the standard, not God or His word, on what genuine spiritual living looks like.
Paul doesn’t address the food or festivals but condemns judging. The word judgment comes from the word “Krino,” and it means to separate. That’s precisely what judgment does. It separates.
Every time we judge, we are dethroning God and assuming the role only God is qualified in fulfilling. Don’t waste your energy judging or debating others but direct your passion towards bringing glory and honor to God!
It’s the goal of growth that motivates Paul to implore those further along in the faith, to welcome and not debate those in a different place than you. We are called to be a part of their growth in God and not why they abandon the faith.
So then, as a Christian, do I need to honor the Sabbath? The answer is no… and yes.
- No, it’s not a requirement of salvation or faith. You don’t have to celebrate it.
- Yes, it’s a principle that God has established as a means of giving His creation rest.
The Sabbath is no longer bound by rules but is wrapped in grace because of the cross.