There is a lot of talk about Sabbath these days.

Don’t feel guilty if you have small children. If you have a supportive spouse perhaps a little time off is possible. But that may not work out. There are some seasons of life when you just don’t have
control of your time. Those times fall under Jesus’ comforting statement: “The Sabbath is made for people and not people for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

But there is another meaning of Sabbath that we sometimes lose sight of: “The Lord set aside the seventh day and made it holy” (Genesis 2:2). The idea of holiness is not that we follow rules and regulations—in fact the New Covenant of grace is specifically contrary to legalism. The essence of holiness is to be set apart to God in love. Remember how the temple and all its implements were consecrated for God. They were set apart for Him.

The essence of Sabbath is that we take one day a week and set it apart for intimacy with God. We dedicate that day to Him. Whether we are chasing toddlers or doing online church, we keep bringing our minds back to Him. We express our love to Him and listen for what He says. We read (or listen) to the Bible, pray and worship, as we are able. One day a week we reset spiritually.

That brings us back to the more common meaning for Sabbath—a day of rest. God created Sabbath as a gift—the offer of one day a week to be rejuvenated. Healthy rhythms of rest and work are essential for wellbeing. If the pendulum stays toward work for too long, we burn out. At that point, it takes much more than a few days of rest to re-calibrate.

Sabbath is an invitation to focus on relationships rather than being productive. Fruitfulness comes when we work from spiritual abundance. If a plant just drinks lightly and periodically, it can develop hidden dryness below the surface. The plant may survive, but it will have minimal capacity for fruit bearing. Sabbath is an invitation to drink of the Spirit of God and be filled up spiritually.