What to Do on the Sabbath, The Fourth Commandment, The Ten Commandments, 4-5

Another thing we should clarify is that obeying the Fourth Commandment involves more than just listing some “do’s” and “don’ts” for Sunday. There may be some who come from very strict homes who regulate strictly activities of the Sabbath. More than likely, most come from homes that are not very strict and allow most any activity on the Sabbath. Some people were required to stay indoors on Sunday afternoon and memorize things from the Bible or the catechism.

Sunday should be a happy day and not a day of gloom. Sunday should be the day that we need to get over the past week, and we should not need the following week to recover from Sunday. The Sabbath to the Jews was a day of prohibitions. But to Jesus, the Sabbath was a day of doing things. He left us with a good idea of what we should do on the Sabbath because what he did on a number of different Sabbaths was recorded in the Scriptures.

First, we know that Jesus went to the Temple on Sabbath and studied. We won’t argue that point, as we accept this as standard practice. We know that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, and few would argue that point either. We Americans, and Christians, have become a compassionate people, and we would willingly help any sick or injured person on any day, including Sunday. Jesus visited the sick on the Sabbath, and may good Christians do the same on the Sabbath. Many young people’s groups pick that day to visit shut ins or elderly people who are shut ins. By choosing to do several things on Sunday, and by not doing many other things, and by answering the Jews about his actions on Sunday, Jesus gives us the means of measuring the things that should or should not be done on the Sabbath. And that is that we should judge the value of a deed by its spiritual value and quality to determine whether it might be done on Sunday.

Having learned how Jesus would have determined what to do on the Sabbath, let’s see if we can come up with some tests we could use.

First, we might ask, “Is this activity something different from what I do during the week days?” Jesus makes it clear that certain routine duties may be carried out on week days and the Sabbath alike. Thus we see that we can cook and eat our food, dress, care for the sick, feed our animals, and perhaps some others such as going to worship, having family worship, etc. We would not be able to include such activities as club meetings, having dances, parties, working. There is nothing inherently wrong with these activities, but are they any different from our everyday week day activities? If they are not, then they would be precluded from being approved for Sunday activities.

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