Permission to Be Done
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
The fourth commandment is the divine right to be done. It is no accident that the commandment to be done is the longest. We have a hard time stopping. The concepts “finished”, “accomplished”, and “completed” are mirages in the dessert, carrots on a string, ox goads. It is the subtle temptation that you can do something more so that you can finally do something less, or eventually do nothing at all. The reality is that nothing ever is finished, accomplished, or completed. There is always something else. Tomorrow happens every 24 hours.
Could it possibly be true that you can get more done by working less? Almost every study on productivity, health, and the benefits of rest suggest that this is true. Although nothing is ever finished, would a man work better in six days if he knew that on the seventh he had permission to be done? If he had an opportunity to step away and do something else for just a day, would it be true that when he returned to work that he could actually do more than before? Yes, yes, and yes. There is abundant proof that when we step away we return stronger, more energetic, and creative. We all need something to look forward to. Before the modern epidemic of antibiotics the doc used to give some sage advice for prompt healing – “Get some rest!” We may not be well acquainted with the benefits of rest, but we know burnout on a first name basis.
For Israel, a slave nation under Egypt, commandment four was permission to be done. It was a sort of weekly Independence Day. It was a celebration of their redemption, and a reminder never to return to slavery. They had God’s permission to always be ex-slaves. To keep them free God told them to do four things with the Sabbath. 1) Remember it = Put it on the calendar, in the Blackberry, on the schedule! 2) Keep it holy = Actually do it, protect it, prioritize it, and dare anybody to take it away from you. The “holy” part means once you have taken care to take the day, give it back to God. He gave it to you. Give it back to Him. 3) Preserve it for others. The biggest temptation for ex-slaves is to own slaves. Don’t be a hypocrite by getting others to work for you while you rest. Do not enslave your family, or your employees, or your livestock, or a stranger. The Sabbath is not for hire! 4) Do what God did, be done. God did not take a Sabbath from creation because He was tired. God took a Sabbath because He was done. Be done!
There will always be Mondays. You could handle them better if you knew that at some point in the near future you had something to look forward to. You and I have the God given right, every week, to be done.[i]
[i] Yes, I know that “THE Sabbath” is Sunday. For my opinions on this matter refer to: http://www.feelmyfaith.com/2009/11/sports-on-sunday.html, http://www.feelmyfaith.com/2010/05/q-and-with-jesus-sermon-audio-sunday-am.html. I also did a Wed. night teaching entitled, “What Should We Do With Sunday.” The audio is somewhere in the abyss of my desk. I am searching for it and hope to post it soon.