Our Bible verse for today: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Rest and leisure are good for you.”
The Pharisees were confused about the true purpose of Sabbath-keeping. They thought God had commanded them to observe Sabbath for His sake, but in truth God established it for our sake. All of God’s commands are for our own good, and that includes the observance of Sabbath-worship and Sabbath-rest. God didn’t institute the practice of Sabbath-keeping because He needs it, but because we do.
A few weeks ago, as I was preparing to begin writing this series about “Sabbath-rest”, I was browsing through my library looking for source material and I came across a little book I read years ago called “Leisure: The Basis of Culture” by the German philosopher Josef Pieper.
Although Pieper himself was a Christian, and although his book is laced with Biblical themes and principles, it’s not exclusively a Christian book. Instead it’s a study about leisure and culture and the positive impact a good philosophy of leisure has on any society. In his research Pieper went all the way back to ancient times – even as far back as the times of Plato and Aristotle, comparing a society’s practice of leisure to the overall health of that society. What he discovered was that those societies that maintained a healthy balance between work and rest consistently fared better than those that overvalued the sphere of work.
In our culture today we tend to overvalue the world of work and we undervalue the need for real rest. As was noted in a previous devotional in this series, even when we do finally stop working and take time to “rest”, we don’t really rest. Instead we end of working at our play and we come back from our vacation exhausted and in need of rest.
The lesson Jesus was teaching in Mark 2:27 is that God instituted the practices of Sabbath-worship and Sabbath-rest for our benefit. Sabbath is a gift to us from God. In other words, you have God’s permission to rest. No, that’s really not quite right either. God has actually commanded you to rest – and He did so because rest and leisure are good for you.